Escape Velocity


I got kind of used to watching three episodes of Bones everyday, curled up with my laptop, polishing up my manuscript (due Sunday!), catching up on everyone’s blogs, and trying to keep up with Twitter (impossible, even when couch bound). A few recent jobs have helped me gain breakaway speed, including a great trip to Vancouver to shoot at 5 different bars (more on that when the article hits the shelves).

This week, I made it back into the kitchen and started to feel that old rhythm kicking in again. First, a few remaining doughnut tests (Red Velvet Cake, Brandy Eggnog, and playing around with Chia flour for a gluten free variation). And then, yesterday, roasted parsnips.


The first time I remember having a parsnip was at some fancy-schmancy restaurant that served probably the best monkfish I’ve ever had. (This was long ago, in the days before fish-lists or much awareness of what was happening in our waters.) Tucked underneath the fish was this beautifully creamed, what I thought was, potato. In fact it was creamed parsnip, and I nearly spit it across the table. I was not in anyway prepared for that earthy sweetness, and thought it was the most horrible thing I had ever had. Perhaps it was just the misplaced expectation or perhaps it wasn’t well prepared (I seem to recall, it was kind of grainy). But I swore off parsnips then and there.

What a huge mistake. Somewhere along the way, a parsnip sneaked its way onto my plate at a friend’s house and it was a revelation. This wasn’t some mealy, sickly sweet babyfood. It was caramel and banana and potato wrapped into one; crisp on the outside, melty on the inside goodness. Now, I can never seem to get enough of them. Yesterday, I roasted up 6 or 7 good sized roots sprinkled with a little vanilla bean salt and a splatter of olive oil, and gobbled them all down for lunch. Today, I’m tempted to do the same.

(PS: Thanks to Stephanie over at Wasabimon for the spotlight! )


Vanilla Roasted Parsnips

I roasted my parsnips whole, which gives a greater ratio of soft to crisp. If you prefer your parsnips caramelized on all sides, you can half or quarter them before roasting.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a baking sheet with foil, and place whole, peeled parsnips on top. Splash with a good olive oil, and sprinkle with vanilla salt and a bit of cracked pepper. Cover with more foil, and roast for about 20 minutes. Turn the parsnips over (they should be golden on the bottom by this point). Recover and roast another 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and cut off the tops and tails. Slice in half (or quarters if they are particularly large) lengthwise. Drizzle on a bit more olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

15 thoughts on “Escape Velocity

  1. Great photos! And you and I def. need to become best friends. I am seriously addicted to Bones. Love that show with a passion. An Kathy Reichs’ books? I’ve got all of ’em… (yes, I am addicted, and they were all great! Love the last one, esp.)

    As for your teen daughter troubles, it gets better! I swear. My sister thinks she is 25 and thinks that she is her own woman, but my mother somehow knows how to deal with her… All I can say is that whatever mean things that she says, she doesn’t mean at all(I’m sure you’ve gotten the “…leave me alone!” line, and “i hate you!” line, as most moms do). And all of the stuff that she says that she hates you doing to her- she’ll appreciate it later on…

    Just some wisdom from a teen and brother of a sister who is a teen….

    Now, onto this recipe- it’s great! I love parsnips!

    P.S. Your kid(s) is/are lucky to have you! 🙂

  2. Good to hear you’re getting better and those jobs you had sound exciting! I love parsnips; although I can fully understand that you didn’t like them if you’re thinking you’re gonna have potatoes in your mouth!

  3. I had never had parsnips before this year (that I can remember), but we peeled and cut them into chunks and roasted them with some other vegetables and loved them.

  4. OK, I’m going to have to give parsnips another chance. Those humble roots can be pretty boring if not done right, but your recipe sounds delicious.

    Do you think one could substitute vanilla bean and sea salt for the vanilla salt that you linked to?

  5. I adore parsnips. They’re delicious and versatile and great with almost any protein. I remember being a teenager and giving my parents the hardest time *sigh* it will all pass though 🙂
    Glad to see you posting again–your pictures are, as always, wonderful!

  6. Parsnips are one of my favorite vegetables, I am just ticked that I didn’t plant any this year. Roasted they are just amazing I have to say.

  7. Bones has gotten the better of me as well. I’m finally caught up on all seasons.

    I’m intrigued by the vanilla and parsnip flavor combination. Sounds delightful.

  8. I just discovered butter-roasted parsnips last year and I am wildly in love with them. I haven’t quite converted my husband, though, so I get to eat the whole panful by myself 🙂

  9. Love this roasting of parsnips!!

    I just made roasted radicchio and it was divine. A new magazine called Poetry of Food,, that has amazing stories and recipes.

    I have made at least 5 which is a record for me!! well my GF is the one who got me addicted to this new mag


  10. hope you’re feeling better now…the shot of the roasted parsnips is awesome! and i can’t wait to see what you shoot in vancouver after just being back from there.

    btw, i love how you try out different site templates.

  11. Until this minute, I was under the firm impression roasted ‘nips with olive oil and salt couldn’t be topped. But vanilla bean salt? oh. my.

  12. is there a way to substitute Vanilla extract for the Vanilla beans? I’d love to try this but vanilla beans are not something I keep on hand.

  13. Hi Naomi – the recipe actually uses vanilla salt, rather than vanilla beans (although you could pretty easily make your own vanilla salt with a bean). I suppose you could use a very, very small amount of vanilla extract and add some coarse sea salt to mimic the effect… just be very light with the vanilla extract or I think it would be too much. The vanilla salt flavor is very subtle.

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