When you are in an online relationship with someone, can you call it dating? Do telephone conversations count? Or is it only correct when you meet in person for the first time? Anyway, details aside, the first time I ate my first parsnip was on the fateful day Neil and I met face to face. Needless to say I was exhausted after a back-to-back flight from Johannesburg to London, via Dubai, which more or less amounts to 24 hours of travelling if you include car trips as well.
It goes without saying that I had terrible fidgets on the plane wondering what on earth I was doing, but as soon as I met him I could tell he wasn’t some deviant psycho with sadomasochistic tendencies who was going to eat me alive bit by bit as soon as we reached his house.
Once we arrived, he (eventually) got cooking. Suddenly I realised I was absolutely starving. Usually I’m quite fussy about other people’s cooking, but at that stage I couldn’t care less because anything would have been better than icky plane food. A feast awaited me: Slow braised lamb shank with a rich red wine gravy, roast potatoes and parsnips and butter-fried leeks. Leek was a new vegetable to me too and I awkwardly told him I’m unsure about these leeks and parsnips. (Remember, these were the days before I started cooking.) He coaxed me to try a bit of each, but said if I don’t like them nobody will force me eat the rest. The parsnip batons were buttery and crisp outside and starchy and sweet on the inside. I was hooked in more ways than one. This bachelor definitely knew the way to my heart.
Curried Parsnip & Honeyed Shallot Couscous
Preparation: 20 mins – Cooking: 1 hour
Weight Watchers POINTS Per Serving: 4½
- 750g (1 lb 10 oz) parsnips, peeled and trimmed
- 300g (10 oz) shallots, peeled and trimmed
- 5ml (1 tsp) paprika
- 5ml (1 tsp) cumin
- 30ml (2 tbsp) honey
- 5ml (1 tsp) salt
- 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
- 200g (7 oz) couscous
- 300ml (10 fl oz) vegetable stock
- Cut the parsnips into 7cm/3 inch batons. They should be about 1.5cm/⅝ inch in diameter, so you may need to halve or quarter them lengthways.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
- Place the parsnip batons into a pan of boiling salted water and blanch for 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and dry on kitchen paper. Do the same with the shallots.
- Place the vegetables in a roasting pan. Mix the paprika, cumin, salt and oil together, pour over the vegetables and place the pan in the oven.
- Bake for about 30 mins or until the vegetables are cooked. (You may need to sprinkle them with water from time to time to prevent the vegetables from drying out completely.)
- Towards the end of the roasting time drizzle the honey over the vegetables and toss vegetables to make sure they get thoroughly covered and put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
- Put the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Pour the stock over, cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
- Fluff up the couscous with a fork, divide evenly among plates and place the parsnips and shallots on top. Garnish with coriander and serve immediately.
- Use young, small parsnips if you can.