Thursday, December 15, 2011

Parsnip and Potato Latkes with Indian-Spiced Yogurt

Parsnips. Any big fans out there?  I've never even tried parsnips until about a month or so ago. Root vegetables, in general, appear to be a bit underappreciated. But, I'm determined to give the lowly root vegetable some love. I also have a new self-imposed rule: each week [at my local farmers' market], to seek out and prepare a dish, using a fruit or vegetable or protein I've never tried before. This week, parsnips; next week possibly celeriac (aka celery root) or maybe kohlrabi? However, at the moment, need to figure out what to do with all my parsnips.

Hmm, decisions, decisions? There's parsnip soup, roasted parsnip [with honey], parsnip puree, even parsnip chips...but what eventually peaked my interest, was parsnip and potato pancakes (or shall I call them latkes), a traditional food eaten during Hanukkah, perfect! To commemorate the miracle of oil [lasting eight days instead of one], one must eat foods fried in oil (preferably olive oil), but of coarse.

Parsnips are in the carrot family, but are more fibrous and starchy and sweeter than carrots. Best to go for the small to medium-sized parsnips. The very large ones tend to get a bit woody on the inside. Unfortunately was not aware of this when I loaded up on parsnips, and went for the largest ones I could find. No problem, just remove the inner fibrous core.When parsnips are cooked, the sugars caramelize, which brings out their inherent sweetness.

Traditionally, potato latkes are served with apple sauce or sour cream. I took a rather different approach, and paired it with an Indian-spiced yogurt with curry leaves, mustard seeds, ginger, curry powder, serrano chile, and a touch of honey. Curry leaves are one of my new favorite finds. Toasting them in oil brings out their flavor. If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend giving them a try.

Now that I've befriended the parsnip, I'm eager to experiment some more. Perhaps next, parsnip soup?

Parsnip-Potato Pancakes
makes 10 pancakes
1 pound yukon gold potatoes (about 8 small), peeled
1 pound parsnips (about 4 medium), peeled
3/4 cup scallions or chives (thinly sliced)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for pan-frying

With a box grater, grate the potatoes and parsnips. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the grated potatoes. In a large bowl, combine the grated potato, grated parsnip, scallions (or chives), eggs, flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well.

Heat a skillet or griddle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is very hot, spoon about 1/3 cup of the mixture to form a pancake. Flatten down with a spatula (~ 1/2 inch thick). Cook until brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve warm with some Indian-spiced yogurt.

Indian-Spiced Yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil 
5 curry leaves
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 Serrano chile, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons honey

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. When hot, add the curry leaves and mustard seeds and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chilli, curry powder, and ginger, and cook on low heat for 2-3 mins. Remove from the heat and let cool. Stir the cooled spice mix into the yogurt along with the honey. Chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve the pancakes. 

Happy Holidays and Happy Eating!


Amy said...

These looks beautiful and very delicious! I just love parsnips and enjoy finding new ways to eat them.

growntocook said...

I discovered your blog by chance and like your imaginative use of unusal ingredients. Nice pictures too!