Archive for February, 2013

Parsnips have something to prove

Countless times you’ve reached for the lettuce, grabbed some carrots and inspected the asparagus, all the while ignoring a far more interesting item. This other vegetable was there the whole time in the produce section also hoping for some attention, but too often it gets lost among the staples. On a slow day it might get a quizzical look before you move on to fetch the milk.

It’s the parsnip, and it deserves some respect. Parsnips are a root vegetable, and though they’re available year round, winter is their time to shine. If they were orange, you might mistake them for carrots. Similar in shape and related to that other veggie, parsnips are a pale tan in color. Taste-wise, they are a bit sweeter, and texturally not quite as crisp.

They’re also delicious. Parsnips can be eaten raw, but with a woody center they don’t offer the satisfying crunch of a carrot. Impart some heat, though, and things get far more interesting. Because of their soft, almost creamy texture when cooked, parsnips can deftly be inserted into a batch of mashed potatoes, boiled along with the spuds. They can also be simmered in soups.

I prefer to roast them, either alone or with carrots and onions. The dry heat of the oven helps intensify parsnips’ flavor and adds visual appeal via the browning effect that culinarians and “Jeopardy” contestants know as the Maillard reaction.

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Last-minute Super Bowl recipe ideas

The big game is right around the corner, as the Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 47.

If there is ever a day for indulgence in front of the TV, this is it. Many viewers will be chomping down on chips, wings, hot dogs and pizza, but these are just of a few of the treats that can be enjoyed on the big day. And they’re admittedly not the healthiest.

This year, either in supplement or substitution to those standards, here are some other easy food ideas for party noshing.

  • Ranchero beans — Think of this as a Spanish version of chili. It’s delicious, filling, and awesome with chips and tortillas.
  • Tzatziki — This yogurt-based dip and spread is a great alternative to the usual fat-laden dips.
  • Bruschetta — Sounds fancy, but this hearty tomato and basil mixture atop crostini is light, satisfying, and a cinch to make.
  • Blue cheese wedge — This version is spiced up with buffalo sauce. Perfect to go with those wings!
  • Shishito peppers — These addicting Asian peppers are relatively mild and are perfect finger foods.
  • Homemade salsa — What would Super Bowl be without chips and guacamole? Spice things up with this easy dip that complements them both.
  • Homemade hummus (picture above) — Forget the expensive store-bought stuff. Hummus is ridiculously easy to make at home and serves as a delicious dip.
  • Oven-baked potato fries — Another healthier alternative to frying, this version of a classic is just as satisfying.
  • Pasta salad — Add some color with the carbs in this multi-hued take on a classic side dish.

Whatever the outcome of the game, I hope you enjoy it and those wacky commercials alongside friends, family, and good food!

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