Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's a Parsnippy Day

I had hoped this year to extend my growing season a little longer, and I think I've succeeded. After all, it's Christmas Eve today, and I harvested my contribution to Christmas dinner just this morning.

Sure, it looks like there's nothing but sticks, straw, and frozen withered leaves out in the garden. Hardly worth the trip, you might think.

But under frosted layers of straw, the row of parsnips awaited their wake-up call from a handy spading fork. I loosened up about 15"-18" of the row -- not nearly the whole thing -- and pulled out this tangled mess of small and jumbo roots.

After lunch, I soaked them in a sinkful of water (which quickly turned black from the mud) and scrubbed them vigorously. Most of them were straight and even and very long...

...though I did find one stunningly intimate pair that grew together. (I don't have the heart yet to separate these two.)

I wasn't able to harvest chard this morning, but I had plenty left from the last harvest, so I decided to make a parsnip-chard gratin. After a layer of sliced parsnips, I sprinkled a mix of crushed walnuts and dried sage, a few dabs of local butter, ribbons of fresh chard, and shredded Flat Rock cheese from the Cheese Guy.

I kept layering until the vegetables reached the rim of the casserole, then topped the lot with butter, bread crumbs (from homemade bread, of course), more cheese, and a big puddle of cream and milk. With the lid added to the dish, I slid it all into the oven to bake.

An hour and a half later... heaven!

Well, I hope so, anyway. We'll find out later when the Renaissance Man and I head over to see My Wonderful Parents and share this fragrant dish with them.

One thing's for sure: this will definitely take the nip out of the day!

Gratin Woosterien

Inspired by one of my favorite dishes, gratin dauphinois, this draws on a vibrant selection of excellent local foods: vegetables, cheese, herbs, dairy. The measurements are very flexible, depending on what you have on hand and what you like, and you can change to other root vegetables, greens, and herbs that you have available. Yes, the name of the dish might be a bit twee for most, but just think of what amazing dishes we could all create using our local produce! (Change the name to fit your own town or region.)

local unsalted butter
a lot of parsnips, scrubbed or peeled, sliced
2 or more cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 c walnuts, crushed
1 tsp dried sage, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 c or more shredded chard or other greens
1/2 c shredded or sliced Gruyère-style cheese
bread crumbs, crushed
up to 1 qt cream or milk (or combination)

Butter a casserole dish. Rub with garlic before slicing.

Layer parsnip slices to cover the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle mixture of walnuts, sage, garlic slices, salt, and pepper on top. Dot with butter. Top with loose layer of chard, then a sprinkling of cheese. Repeat one to two times, until casserole is full.

Top the casserole with dots of butter, bread crumbs (a sprinkling), and remaining cheese. Pour cream and/or milk evenly over the casserole until the liquid comes up about 2/3 the side of the dish. Cover.

Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Remove the cover, then bake for another 30-45 minutes, until cheese is well browned and vegetables are tender.

Serves 8 at a festive occasion

Labels: , , , , ,


At 12/28/2009 11:52 AM, OpenID eatclosetohome said...

Those two parsnips look intimate, yes, but more in a mother-holding-child way, to me. :) "Uff! You're getting big! Pretty soon I won't be able to carry you any more!" "Oh, no, mommy, you'll always be able to carry me. You're so strong!"

At 12/28/2009 12:08 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

You are so kind, Emily. I guess we all know where MY mind was... ;-)


Post a Comment

<< Home