When a parsnip isn’t a parsnip

Weekend Herb BloggingOne of the Seven Miracles of Blogging (and I’ll tell you what the other six are when I figure them out) is that sometimes the other bloggers you get to know online show up in your offline life. Such was the case for Megan of Chez Mégane, who made an extended stop through Iowa City during the Fall. We met for drinks and dinner, became immediate friends, and had long talks about food and the other less-important aspects of life.

One night, before she disappeared back into blogland, Megan told me about her search for parsnips at the Co-op. The search almost ended in disaster when she originally selected daikon radishes from the produce section. We laughed over the story, and I’ll just go ahead and admit it…inside, I was thinking, Ha ha! I would never make such a mistake. I am The Inadvertent Gardener, and I know a thing or two about parsnips!

Which is why, when I decided recently that a nice mélange of roasted root vegetables would make a lovely side dish for dinner, I headed directly to the Co-op for parsnips, carrots, red onions and turnips. I selected my veggies with great confidence, brought them home, and set about preparing them.

The last set of vegetables I cut into were the parsnips. They were so lovely and crisp and…awfully radish smelling.

Oh dear, I thought. That’s an awfully strong odor d’radish.

I sniffed the vegetable’s white flesh. Yes, that reminded me a lot of radish. I winced, and took a bite.

There was no question about it. What I had bought was a pile of daikon radish. Me. The girl who knows her parsnips.

Megan, I hope you’ll forgive me for having a self-important thought. However, I can report on a happy ending to the story, which all of you cooks can file away for future reference.

Since I had already tossed a bunch of the radish chunks into my bowl of veggies, I decided to just go ahead and mix them in with everything else. Worst case scenario, I thought, I’d be able to pick them out if they were awful.

I roasted the vegetables until everything was caramelized and brown, and removed the pan from the oven, keeping my fingers crossed. To my surprise and delight, the radishes were delicious. They were softer than the rest of the vegetables – they definitely don’t retain much crunch – but they tasted great just the same.

I still haven’t gone back and tried to actually buy parsnips again. I’m blaming it on the fact that we were gone over the holidays and I didn’t do much cooking. But really, I’m a little root vegetable-shy at the moment.

I’m offering this one up for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Scott at Real Epicurean. Please stop by and check out all the great posts in this week’s roundup, which will be posted Sunday or Monday!


11 Responses to “When a parsnip isn’t a parsnip”

  1. 1 Alanna January 19, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Roasted Daikon? Why didn’t I think of that?!

  2. 2 Katie January 20, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    I wonder if that is what the French do with these awful looking black radishes? I’ve always been too afraid….disinterested, maybe, to try them. But this sounds kind of intriguing.
    We can’t get parsnips – their considered pig food. Black radishes, yes; parsnips no…go figure!

  3. 3 Mrs Lifecruiser January 21, 2007 at 5:58 am

    I would never do that mistake…..

    —only a lot of others!!!!


  4. 4 inadvertentgardener January 21, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Alanna, I would have never thought of it if I hadn’t just tried it by accident. It’s delicious, though!

    Katie, those black radishes intrigue me — I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. And how funny that you can’t get parsnips there. They’re so tasty! Lucky pigs…

    Mrs. Lifecruiser, I sometimes feel like I’ve got a lock on cooking mistakes, but hey…sometimes they’re more happy accidents than irreversible errors!

  5. 5 Realepicurean January 21, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Hahah. I must admit I thought similar the first time I saw one, too.

  6. 6 coffeepot January 21, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    roasted radish..sounds inventive

    I wonder how many inventions came about through error

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener January 21, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    Realepicurean, what’s funny is that I was actually aware that they looked so similar and STILL picked up the wrong thing at the store. Oh well…

    Coffeepot, I suspect more errors lead to invention than we even know about!

  8. 8 Megan January 22, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Oh Genie, that is hilarious! For future reference, they’re hidden in a basket on the top shelf. =) I’m glad you tried the radish, though! Next time I buy 2 pounds of daikon, I’ll know what to do with it. Parsnips are really good, though, aren’t they? I mean, once you find them…

  9. 9 Kalyn January 22, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    I once took a Chinese cooking class and there were a number of recipes for cooked Daikon, so this makes complete sense to me.

  10. 10 inadvertentgardener January 22, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Megan, thanks for the directions…I’ll have to go check them out one more time! I really do love parsnips, too, but I’m at least glad I stumbled on a happy accident…

    Kalyn, ah ha — that makes sense. Now I’m intrigued enough, I think, to look around for some more daikon recipes. The cooked version was really good!

  1. 1 RealEpicurean.com Trackback on January 22, 2007 at 5:53 pm

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