Tuesday, January 31, 2012
ROASTED CARROTS AND PARSNIPS WITH FENNEL AND ORANGE
The Crispy Pork Medallions recipe was accompanied in Cooking Light by a basic roasted root vegetable medley, but that looked kind of boring. Still, I needed something to go with it and I love roasted vegetables, so I turned to Food Blog Search to see if it would bring me something more thrilling, and ding! This recipe from The Kitchn caught my eye immediately. I enjoyed a brief flirtation with roasted parsnips last winter, although I think it’s odd that I complained about them being hard to find, because they are plentiful at the farmers’ market right now; maybe they were out of season by March? If so, I’d better eat my weight in them right now, because I freakin’ love those ugly buggers. They’re not unlike carrots, but sweeter when cooked, with an addictive peppery undertone (Wikipedia describes this as “reminiscent of butterscotch, honey, and soft cardamom,” a description I’m not sure I would have come up with myself, but I adore all three of those things, so OK!) and the softer, buttery texture of sweet potatoes. The balsamic-glazed variety is still my favorite, but this one is a close runner-up, since it also has fennel, one of my other winter vegetable obsessions, plus carrots and oranges to brighten things up. The oranges are an especially nice touch; I generally hew towards lemon and lime when cooking with citrus, but oranges and carrots make very good friends. Roasting an orange felt strange, but it resulted in awesome flavor.
The first time I made this (yes, I’ve made it twice, along with the pork; I think these two recipes will become inextricably linked for me, because they really are perfect together) I followed the original recipe a bit too literally; I ended up with vegetable pieces that were too big and took too long to cook, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I had peeled and sliced my oranges, which meant they dissolved into puddles of juice and made my vegetables steam instead of getting crisp and brown. It all worked out in the end, but after practicing a second time I’ve made some changes: More parsnips, because they are awesome; smaller vegetable pieces; and oranges that are just quartered (as in this recipe, where I roast lemons) and then squeezed over the vegetables, once during roasting to create a glaze, and once just before serving for an extra burst of flavor. The result is a festival of warm, comforting, caramelized winter vegetables, with enough zips of color and citrus flavor to lift you out of the dark seasonal doldrums.
¾ pound carrots
¾ pound parsnips
1 medium fennel bulb
2 medium oranges
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup (I recommend Grade B)
Coarse salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Peel the carrots and parsnips, or just scrub them well. Cut them in half crosswise and then into quarters (or, if they are large, eighths) lengthwise, so they are in uniform chunks (sticks about 2 to 4 inches long and ½ to 1 inch wide worked well for me). If the parsnips have a tough, woody center, cut it out.
3. Cut the fennel into wedges (I did eighths).
4. Wash the oranges and slice them into quarters.
5. In a large bowl, toss the carrots, parsnips, fennel, and oranges with the olive oil and maple syrup and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet (line with parchment or foil for easier cleanup).
6. Roast, turning occasionally, until tender and browned, about 30 minutes. Five minutes before the end of cooking, use a tongs to squeeze the juice from half of the orange pieces over the vegetables, tossing to coat; return baking sheet to oven and finish roasting.
7. Remove vegetables from oven, use a tongs to squeeze the remaining orange pieces over the vegetables (discard orange pieces after squeezing), season vegetables to taste, and serve.
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: OK; they reheat fine, if a bit less crisp, if you can manage not to scarf them all down immediately.