- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Bunnicula, a character in a series of children’s books, is a vampire rabbit who sucks the color out of carrots, leaving them white. The stories are delightful, and I’m reminded of them when I see parsnips.

These less-used vegetables look like carrots and have a similar texture and flavor but are white, not orange, as if drained of their hue.

What intrigues me is the subtle yet distinctive flavor. Bite into a freshly harvested parsnip, and you’ll notice a hint of nutmeg. This natural spiciness makes the parsnip a delicious addition to soups, stews and skillet dinners.

Parsnips are excellent to drizzle with olive oil and roast, as you would potatoes, or to boil and top with a pat of butter.

You needn’t relegate parsnips to side-dish status, however. Highlight them in a hearty soup. This rich and luscious combination of parsnip, bacon and potato finished with a splash of cream makes a welcome and satisfying cold-weather entree. Round out the meal with a romaine lettuce and Asiago cheese salad.

Potato and parsnip soup

1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced

1 medium parsnip, peeled and diced

2 strips bacon, diced

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 cups chicken broth

½ cup whipping cream or half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons minced scallion

Place the potato and parsnip in a pan with water to cover. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes or until the potato and parsnip are tender. Drain and set aside.

Fry the bacon in the pan until crisp. Remove the bacon; pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings.

Brown the shallot in the bacon drippings for 3 minutes or until tender.

Combine the potato, parsnip, shallot, chicken broth, cream or half-and-half, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste in a blender; puree.

Return potato mixture to the pan; add the bacon and heat to serving temperature. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon minced scallion over each serving.

Makes 2 servings.

Romaine and Asiago cheese salad

2 packed cups torn romaine lettuce

½ ounce very thinly sliced Asiago cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon pepper


Place lettuce in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with cheese. Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper and salt to taste in a cup. Whisk to blend.

Pour mustard dressing over salad; toss gently but well. Makes 2 servings.


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