Savoring the Seasons: Sweet spring 'snips
By MARY MCCLINTOCK
Not only is Michael Docter of Winter Moon Farm in Hadley skilled at growing root vegetables, he’s a mind reader. Just when I was thinking “I bet it’s time for Michael’s amazing spring-dug parsnips,” I got this message from him: “I wasn’t going to bother you this year about parsnips, but I just talked to Victor Signore at Green Fields Market and the ’snips are moving, but not like usual because, according to Victor, ‘When Mary writes the article, they come in droves.’
“When I heard him say that, I figured maybe your readers are waiting for the parsnip cue and might be disappointed if we didn’t let them know. Tell them not to wait, it will be a short season for parsnips due in part to the late arrival of spring.”
So ... here it is, the “parsnip cue.” Run, do not walk, to Green Fields Market or McCusker’s Market to get some of Michael’s supremely sweet spring-dug parsnips!
What makes spring-dug parsnips better than parsnips harvested in the fall? They’re sweet! The process of overwintering in the ground converts the starches in parsnips to sugars making spring-dug parsnips sweeter. However, spring-dug parsnips must be harvested before the tops to go seed. That’s why Michael said to enjoy parsnips NOW.
How to cook parsnips? I normally just peel, slice, saute in butter until soft, and enjoy. Or you can try the tasty bread pudding Ruth Parnall brought to the Conway Local Food Potluck (recipe below). However you prepare them, enjoy!
Celebrating Sustainability: Our Successes and Our Challenges, Tuesday, April 16, 4 to 9 p.m., Clarion Hotel, Northampton. Featuring guest speaker Judy Wicks, co-founder of nation-wide Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and founder of Fair Food, dedicated to building a local food system in the Philadelphia region. Includes networking, lightning talks from local experts, dinner. Limited seating, reservations required. $40 pvSustain/PVLF members, $50 nonmembers. Co-sponsored by: Pioneer Valley Local First and the Pioneer Valley Sustainability Network. For information, contact Catherine Ratté at firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 781-6045.
This week we’re eating ...
Roasted-Parsnip Bread Pudding
By Ruth Parnall, Conway
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 oz. (2 T.) unsalted butter, plus 1½ oz. (3 T.), melted, plus more for dish
2 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and rinsed well (about 3 C.)
1/3 C. dry white wine
2 T. chopped fresh thyme
2 C. heavy cream
5 large eggs
1 C. finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 loaf (12 oz.) brioche, crust removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle parsnips with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Roast, shaking occasionally, until caramelized and tender, 23 to 25 minutes. Let cool. Reduce heat to 375.
Heat 2 T. butter over medium heat in medium saute pan until melted. Add leeks, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add wine, and return to heat. Let simmer until reduced, 1 minute. Add thyme, and remove from heat. Stir in roasted parsnips.
Whisk together melted butter, heavy cream, eggs, and ¾ C. Parmesan in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add leek-parsnip mixture, then fold in bread. (Mixture can be refrigerated overnight.) Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish, and pour parsnip mixture into dish. Cover loosely with parchment, then foil, and bake until golden brown and puffed, 50 minutes. Remove parchment and foil. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan, and return to oven. Bake for 10 minutes more. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 8 servings.
(Note from Ruth: I have only found brioche loaf once (for the recent potluck), and I prefer it. But otherwise I have used challah. It’s a little stiffer, so the cubes should be a bit smaller.)