Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alien Vegetables for Earth Day

You are probably wondering what an alien vegetable is. Well, it's a vegetable that is alien to your kitchen (and sometimes mine), but probably shouldn't be.

I have been going through a vegetable rut during winter. There really isn't much to chose from here during the winter that looks any good, or at least I don't think so.

Enter the parsnip (on the right). And fennel (on left). For most of you, the only time you have probably tasted parsnip is cooked in ham for a special occasion (like me). But, honestly, I love the little things. They add a great flavor to mashed potatoes, just require a bit longer to cook than the potato. They are good peeled, sliced and roasted as well.

Fennel is another story - it's a recent addition to my kitchen. And, as you can see, the one I got looks a little bruised. But, it is delicious. I peeled off the first few layers of skin, cut off a bit of the bottom, and tasted the inner portion, and it tasted good. I was surprised.

All the things I have read about fennel told me it had a "mild licorish flavor". Well, that is true, but the taste is much much milder than I expected, and not sweet at all. For some reason, I thought it would be sweet.

I decided that roast vegetables was what I was in the mood for, and roasting these two together with some small yellow potatoes was great. Just what I needed!

If you are introducing new root vegetables to your veggie-phobe, I strongly suggest roasting them with some potatoes for a great side dish. There is just something about the carmelization you can get in the oven that makes vegetables taste great - without adding a ton of fat.

Roasted Vegetables

1 medium fennel bulb, peeled, and cut into 2" chunks
2 parsnips, peeled, and cut into 2" chunks
1/2 lb. small yellow potatoes, cut into 2" chunks
1 T. olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. fresh basil, cut finely
1 t. parsley, cut finely

Preheat oven to 450f (220c). In a shallow baking pan, toss your vegetables with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 20-35 minutes, turning every 10-15 minutes, depending on browness of veggies.

Sprinkle with fresh herbs before serving (not shown). Serves 2-4, depending on what you serve it with. Or, if you are like me, serves 1.5, since they were so good that's all I had.

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