Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Oven-baked parsnip fries

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Oven baked parsnip fries

Oven-roasted vegetables cut into sticks, like these baked parsnip fries, have gotten my kids to eat a ton of vegetables without complaint over the years.

I don't believe in hiding vegetables for kids. I puree them into soup (cauliflower soup, celery soup, even lettuce soup). I sauce them up with cheese (zucchini rice casserole, zucchini gratin). I shred them or chop them and fry them up into pancakes (bacon corn fritters, spinach pancakes, zucchini fritters). These are vegetables transformed, not disguised. I see this as a completely legitimate way to get kids to eat more vegetables.

And yes, I know my kids are teenagers. Sometimes they still need a reminder.

I'm also a fan of trompe l'oeil. Inside an old European cathedral, this artistic technique, literally translated from the French as "fools the eye," means wood painted to look like marble. In my kitchen, trompe l'oeil means vegetables other than white potatoes cut and cooked like french fries.

I have nothing against potatoes - in fact, it's my family's overwhelming love for potatoes that makes this slick family-feeding technique possible in the first place. I've made "fake fries" out of carrots, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, turnips, black radishes, zucchini and broccoli stems. Cut in batons, toss with olive oil and salt, oven-roast on a baking sheet until brown and crisp. If you can pick it up with your fingers and dip it in Not Ketchup, it's a winner with my family.

My favorite french fry substitute is the sweet, pale parsnip, whose sugars concentrate and flavors intensify exponentially when prepared this way. I don't eat a lot of starchy vegetables at the moment, but I've been known to make these for dinner and eat the whole batch standing at the counter before I've even called the kids to the table. No one loves fries more than I do.

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Baked parsnip fries
A great alternative to traditional french fries, these parsnip fries bake up sweet and crispy.
  • 2 pounds parsnips, washed and peeled
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.Cut the parsnips into batons. It doesn't really matter exactly how you do it, but you're looking to get the pieces more or less the same size so they cook at the same speed. Parsnips tend to be much thicker at the top than at the root end, so this may take some creative cutting. No need to be obsessive about it; do the best you can.Scatter the parsnip batons on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle over the olive oil, and sprinkle on the salt. Using your hands, toss the parsnip pieces until the oil and salt are well distributed. Spread the parsnip pieces out into a single layer.Roast the parsnip fries 20-30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes and, if you like, tossing them around with a spatula once or twice to brown them evenly. Take them out when they've got nice brown edges and spots, but don't let them burn - blackened parsnip fries are bitter (and yes, I speak from experience). Serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6 servings


kristy said...

This looks like one that would get my kids' approval. You said the magic words - anything dipped in ketchup! ;)

Mari Nuñez said...

Great recipe! These fries look yummylicious!

Elly said...

I love parsnip fries! Another great way to make these is to lightly coat them in parmesan cheese and either fry them or oven bake them. They get a crispy, cheesy coating that is perfect for dipping in garlic aoli or ketchup!

Happy eating!

Valentina said...

i think this is the best way to eat parsnips -roasted and super caramelized! yummy!

Monet said...

What a lovely twist on the classic french fry. These sound so tasty. What a lovely recipe...and an inspiring post. I hope you have a beautiful weekend, my friend. Blessings and joy from Austin.

Ohneclue said...

Parsnips are a little carby for me so I use rutabagas and jicama for my fake fries. If you want sweet ones, carrots do a good job of that because they develop a great sweetness but much lower in carbs. That's just me. Parsnips would take my entire carb allotment for 6 hours so I don't ever use them.

Erika Kerekes said...

@Judith yes, a little high-carb for me too most of the time, but a) I do make exceptions now and then and b) my family adores them. We do carrots sometimes too. I've never tried rutabaga cooked this way - thanks for the suggestion!

DIYDanielle said...

What a great idea!

Mardi Michels said...

Love parsnip fries! You've reminded me to bring back my "alternative fries" lesson to my cooking club boys next term!

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