Look at these chubby little guys. It’s getting colder and that means it’s getting close to parsnip season! I love parsnips. Not only do they provide a lovely flavor nuance in soups and stews but they are delightful roasted on their own, which is basically what we are going to wind up doing.
Today’s Blog Everyday in November (#BEDN) topic is: Food, Glorious Food. This post is a no-brainer since I write about what I’m up to in the kitchen quite often. However I must disclose that I can’t hear this tune from the musical, Oliver, without thinking about one of my ‘previous lives’ and a program we used to promote called, “Dining for Wellness.”
Once upon a time, I worked for a senior housing company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. They managed communities across the country, including two in upstate New York. During my tenure they implemented the national dining program which was supposed to encourage a fine dining experience that was both delicious and healthy. The program came complete with marketing materials that talked about the ingredients in each dish as well as nutritional information. We were supposed to provide both the residents and referral sources with this information as a selling point.
The problem was, we were dealing with older people – older people who had worked their whole lives, and many were in their 80s and 90s. You know what they wanted to eat? Hamburgers. Grilled cheese. Bacon. Basically whatever the eff they wanted from their usual menu, and said menu wasn’t offered on Dining for Wellness evenings. To promote Dining for Wellness, the national sales team decided to come up with a jingle to the tune of Food Glorious Food. We were then instructed to go out in the community and sing to the hospital and rehabilitation unit social workers. I can’t sing. Really. I’m awful. Did they really think I was going to use my lack of talent in this area in an attempt to close a sale? I only wish I could remember the entire jingle because it was comedy gold, but I’m pretty sure I repressed that memory the second I read the lyrics. However I do remember one line ending in the word, “Snacky.” Yes indeed.
The residents’ dispositions on Dining for Wellness night finally changed when the former executive director and I decided to implement wine pairings with the meal. Don’t judge. Wine has antioxidants. Yes, In true Lady Sensory form, the moral of the story is: you can’t sing to people and expect them to eat healthy. No. But you can get them drunk and they’ll pretty much eat anything you put in front of them. Heck, they might even sing to you in return.
Lady Sensory’s Healthy Parsnip Snacky Fries
This is a modified rendition of a recipe I found on epicurious, based on what I had in-house and personal preference. The result was delicious, but you can use whatever recipe, seasoning, or technique works for you.
3-4 parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks (about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick and 2 1/2- 3 1/2 inches long, like French fries)
2 -3 tbsp garlic & herb infused oil (I use the Wegmans basting oil and believe that has garlic, basil and parsley in it).
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp ground cumin (more or less depending on your taste)
Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste (I recommend being liberal with this – the salt really enhances the sweetness of the parsnips)
Place two racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with foil. Grease the foil with a little olive oil to help reduce sticking. Place the parsnips in a large bowl. With a mortar and pestle, mix the dried rosemary, cumin, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the parsnip slices. Drizzle the slices with the flavored olive oil. Toss and rub the parsnips to distribute the oil and seasonings well. Position on cookie sheets in one layer so the parsnips aren’t touching. Bake for about 15 minutes, turn the parsnip slices and rotate the trays and bake for another 15-20 minutes. You want the parsnips to be tender with crisp brown edges, but not burned. Toss into a bowl lined with paper towel (helps absorb the oil) and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
Kick back and enjoy this healthy fall “snacky!” You might even trick someone into liking them better than real French fries!