I am fully “living life on the veg” courtesy of Riverford Organics, and I could not be happier with my regular supply of the freshest, tastiest organic produce that they deliver every Friday straight to my door. An absolutely brilliant service!
Notwithstanding my new-found addiction to drinking a large glass of freshly pressed juice every day - which I’m convinced is far more life enhancing than the proverbial ‘apple a day’ that’s reputed to ‘keep the doctor away’ - I’m having a ball creating new recipes from a plethora of organic fruit and vegetables that you can never reliably find on supermarket shelves.
Because eating Primal is what my close family prefers, we never succumb to eating white potatoes or even compensate very often with other high-carb root vegetables. However, last week I couldn’t resist ordering some new season parsnips for inclusion in my weekly Riverford box of goodies. When they arrived, I thought I’d go all out and make a main meal of them.
Totally delicious, this creamy Nutty Parsnip Gratin has a gorgeous sweet spiciness about it that pairs beautifully with salty Parmesan cheese and crunchy roasted hazelnuts. In fact, I think I’ve succeeded in elevating the humble parsnip to giddying new heights with this dish! Let’s just say, when you dive in with your fork you might not even recognise that you’re eating parsnips - it’s just the most perfectly balanced, tasty, autumnal meal that ticks all those cold-weather comfort food cravings without a potato or grain in sight. How good is that?
Nutty Parsnip Gratin (serves 3-4)
500g organic parsnips (trimmed and peeled weight of approximately 3 large parsnips)
2 large organic shallots
300ml organic whole milk
125ml organic double cream
1 dsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (about 2 decent sprigs of rosemary)
1 tsp English mustard
¼ tsp organic nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
80g Parmesan cheese (I used Gran Moravia vegetarian Parmesan-style hard cheese), finely grated
50g organic roasted, blanched hazelnuts, chopped
Freshly ground organic black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200℃ / 400℉ / Gas mark 6
Peel and finely slice the parsnips lengthways into 2-3mm thick strips using a mandolin. If the parsnips are large, first cut them in half across the middle, then cut the top half into quarters and using a vegetable peeler, trim away the fibrous core before slicing.
Peel the shallots and still using the mandolin, slice them very finely.
In a large, wide, lidded sauté pan heat the milk to scalding point (just below boiling) then add the parsnip and shallot slices, pressing them down into the milk (the vegetables won’t be completely covered at this stage).
Cover and cook over a medium-low heat for 4 minutes until the parsnips are soft but not broken up. Tip: Gently stir the vegetables around after 2 minutes to ensure that everything cooks evenly. Take off the heat and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cream, rosemary, mustard, nutmeg and salt, then stir in half the grated cheese. Pour the mixture over the parsnips and shallots and gently combine everything together. Tip into a gratin dish, press down with the back of a spoon and level off the top.
In a small bowl mix together the rest of the cheese, ground almonds, chopped hazelnuts and a good grating of freshly ground black pepper. Scatter evenly on top of the parsnip mixture.
Dot all over with small pieces of cold butter and bake the gratin for 30 minutes until lovely-bubbly, crisp and golden.
Eat and enjoy.
Nutty Parsnip Gratin tastes special enough to serve as a vegetarian main course with all the trimmings on Christmas Day. It’s also a brilliant make-ahead vegetable side dish for carnivores - I imagine that served alongside something meaty, it would be an absolute winner.
It doesn’t matter so much for this recipe because you’re boiling the milk anyway, but because it’s kinder to cows and much healthier for humans, I only ever buy whole milk that’s raw and organic from Gazegill Organics This is what they say:
“Here at Emma’s Dairy we believe that cows should have the freedom to roam, grazing our pastures and producing raw organic milk that is naturally high in omega 3. Our cows produce a natural amount of milk and are not intensified in any way to produce more, thats why our milk is rich in butterfat and protein. We do not homogenise our milk but believe that in leaving a cream line you can enjoy simply put an un-tampered with natural product that is full of natures best, we also offer raw organic milk and pasteurised milk as well as cream and offer UK wide delivery, we hope you enjoy it.”
Carbohydrate 31g Protein 15g - per serving