from one generation to the next
At my favourite Farmer’s Market last week I was surprised to see bunches of baby parsnips piled high amongst the spring greens. Roasted parsnips are always well received on our dinner table so I began to formulate a warm salad to accompany an unadorned roast chicken.
Working with the delicious soft sweetness of the parsnips and what I had to hand I began by thinking about crunch so I toasted pine nuts in the oven while the parsnips were roasting. Salty tidbits were my next consideration. I almost settled on uncrushed salt flakes after rejecting capers, olives and anchovies, then inspiration struck. Crisp parmesan crumbs would add extra crunchy texture plus a huge hit of flavour. Into the oven went a silicone paper lined tray covered in a very thin layer of finely grated parmesan to caramelize. I chopped parsley and snipped chives to add freshness.
While the parsnips cooled a little I roughly crushed the crisp parmesan and considered a dressing. Because I’d tossed the parsnip pieces in olive oil before putting them in the oven, a squeeze of lemon juice and a good grinding of black pepper would suffice.
I layered the salad into the serving bowl with a bunch of lightly steamed broccolini. It was a delicious balance of textures and flavours and a salad worth making again!
8 small parsnips (approx 700g)
40g parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon snipped garlic chives
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 bunch brocciolini, lightly steamed
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cut the parsnips in half lengthways, then cut the fat half into batons.
Toss the parsnips in a thin coating of olive oil, spread them on a tray in a single layer then bake until golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Set aside to cool
While the parsnips are roasting, toast the pine nuts 5-10 minutes in the oven on a separate tray. Watch them closely as they burn easily. When they have lightly browned remove from the oven and set aside.
Finely grate the parmesan cheese onto a baking paper lined tray and spread into a very thin layer. Bake the cheese until melted and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove and cool.
Crush the cheese crisp roughly with a rolling pin.
Toss the parsnips, pine nuts and parmesan together.
Just before serving add the herbs and sprinkle the lemon juice over.
Toss the parsnip salad then layer into a serving bowl with the brocciolini.