November Cherry Almond Parsnips
My favorite days off from work come during the week when stores and streets aren’t quite as busy and I can be out and about beneath the bright sunshine with a little bit of peace and quiet. Try as I might, I still feel there aren’t enough daylight hours this time of year and I just can’t seem to be present in the moment when I am running from car to door and cruising down I-95 thinking about what’s for dinner and does the laundry need to be done. On days like today though I am able to notice how the cardinals just seem so much more beautiful this time of year, how sharply they contrast against the barren tree branches. I can prepare meals for the week ahead and have the afternoon lighting as my backdrop rather than the harsh beam coming from the table lamp.
Fortunately for me or maybe unfortunately for my waist line, the Mystic Market is just seconds from my house and the dishes they cook up down there are fabulous. Sometimes I splurge and grab lunch to-go or dinner on nights when I’m pressed for time but yesterday I was able to stop myself from bringing home any of these devilish dishes and instead melted into a cup of hazelnut coffee, black of course. Thank you to the man several years ago who got me to finally try coffee and convinced me there was no other way than to drink it other than black. Although I left without any entrees or take-out containers I did not leave without inspiration for my very own kitchen.
The tray of roasted turnips, tossed with cranberries and poppy seeds led me on an adventure of my own to bring the parsnips into our household. Some call them parsnips, some call them fat, white, carrot-type things, and still others call them big, beige carrots. No matter what your term of endearment is for this root vegetable, they make for a mighty tasty side dish. Why did I turn to parsnips when the mouth-watering dish that caught my attention contained turnips you ask? Because upon first glance I was pretty sure they were parsnips and then it was all I could think about.
I discovered parsnips back in high school when I was desperate to bring something other than broccoli to family dinners. I mimicked the sweet and crunchy technique with dried cherries and chopped almonds and turned to the trusty Joy of Cooking for guidance on roasting. As of late I have become more comfortable pulling my own recipes together but sometimes the basics of water versus broth, 25 versus 45 minute cooking times still get me.
As I stood on the deck, photographing the sweetly roasted parsnips I think I might have even smelled a hint of snow in the air. It’s little blessings like these that make me thankful for living in New England, and evoke memories of watching snowflakes melting away on the water’s surface while lighted boats bob along the docks.
November Cherry Almond Parsnips
Serves about 6
1 1/2 pounds of parsnips
1/2 cup dried cherries, halved
1/4 cup chopped almonds
2/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth
2 TBSP salted butter, cut into small pieces
2-3 tsp light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375F. Peel and cut parsnips into one inch cubes and place in a glass baking dish, making a single layer. Pour vegetable broth over top of parsnips. Place the pieces of butter throughout the mixture, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, halve the dried cherries and set aside. Chop the almonds, measure out 1/4 cup and mix with cherries. I used slivered almonds to start because that is what we had on hand. Once parsnips have roasted, remove the cover, sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar – about 2 to 3 teaspoons – and continue roasting, uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Mix in the cherries and almonds and serve.