Veg Box Newsletter 2nd May: Parsnips

In the Veg Boxes This Week

Subject to last minute changes

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Munch of the Month: April

We’re delighted to announce that the winning dish for April’s Munch of the Month contest is @Joannas_blog’s beautiful floral focaccia, which uses beetroot, carrots, onion, and (my favourite part) tenderstem broccoli to portray a gorgeous summer meadow. The veg, all caramelised from its time in the hot oven, looks like it’ll taste amazing. I can’t think of anything better to have for lunch, especially a picnic lunch on a sunny day, than a roasted veg focaccia- and maybe some cheese. 

I don’t know what recipe Joanna used, but my favourite recipe for focaccia is this incredibly easy one which involves no kneading and, really, very little work in general. Decorating the bread with your veg is the clear next step, and there’s no limit to the creativity you can exhibit.

Munch of the Month is an ongoing competition with monthly winners, so be sure to post anything you’re cooking with your veg box on Instagram and in our Facebook page. Remember to use the hashtags #LocavoreMM and #LocavoreVegBox to make sure we see your entry. We had a lot of amazing entries this month and we can’t wait to see what you cook next. 

The Nice Bit

Parsnips are lovely, but they’re definitely something that I associate strongly with winter. They’re sweet and starchy, old-fashioned, and well-suited to old-fashioned (I’m talking medieval) recipes heavy with spices and cream. You might be most used to having them in heavy stews and as part of a roast. Sunshine-food they are not. 

But this is the hungry gap, when we have to make the most of what we have, and this week what we have is parsnips. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic. Parsnips have a sweet, subtle flavour and suit a lot of methods of cooking. I’d like to help you find ways to eat them that feel seasonal, as well as being a consequence of seasonal availability. It’s funny how those two things don’t always align!

It might be as easy as making the side-dish the main event, swapping in a bright fresh salad to change the tone of the meal. I think a parsnip gratin- this elaborate one with hazelnuts, marscapone and breadcrumbs or this simple one which sets off the flavours with not much more than cream and mustard- would step into this role perfectly, comforting enough for a cool spring day without tipping into christmas territory. Classic roast parsnips- briefly parboiled or pre-steamed before being added to a pre-heated tin with plenty of oil, butter or dripping- might also work here, perhaps served with a fried egg or a cabbage and potato hash. You could also go ahead and make the hash with parsnips, or make proper hash browns with them- parsnips for breakfast!

If recontextualising the parsnips isn’t enough you might want to play around with the flavours you pair them with. Nigel Slater suggests curry spices, and has a recipe for a root veg korma, in which the sweetness of parsnips is a feature and brings out the delicate flavours. He also suggests cooking grated root veg in a curry cream, served with brown rice, which sounds like the perfect thing for a chilly May evening. You can also experiment with roast parsnips, like in this recipe where they’re topped with dukkah after being roasted with maple syrup. This means the textures and flavours are layered through, letting the parsnips shine in all their caramelised goodness.