Saturday, June 1, 2013

Parsnip in Spicy Cashew Sauce

Parsnip is often confused with parsley roots. Although they look very much alike there is one huge difference between them. Parsley leaves called flat leaves or Italian parsley are edible and are popular in many cuisines as a fresh garnish, salad ingredient, or a dry herb. Parsnip leaves are toxic and cause a reaction similar to that provoked by poison ivy. Therefore you can buy bunches of parsley root with leaves but parsnip is always sold without them, which would help you to distinguish them at the first glance.

I am familiar with parsley root, which is very popular in Polish cuisine, where it is added to many dishes for its strong flavor. Parsnip is much milder. It is sweeter than carrot but has a slightly earthy taste. It has also many important nutritional values. First of all, parsnip is an excellent source of dietary fiber. It is also rich in vitamins C, B, folic acid, and minerals such as iron, calcium, copper as well as many antioxidants which give parsnip anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

I have already tried a couple of parsnip recipes but none of them was worth sharing, until last week when I made a spicy parsnip dish. The sweetness of parsnip sometimes is a little bit overwhelming, but in this particular dish it nicely neutralizes the spiciness of the sauce made of Indian spices and chili. Rather fast and easy, it also turned out to be a wonderful vegetarian and quite a nutritious dish.

Parsnip in Spicy Cashew Sauce
(Serves four)

2 lbs of parsnip peeled and cut into cubes,
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped,
4 garlic cloves,
1 medium onion cut in four,
2-inch piece of ginger root, peeled off and sliced,
2 jalapeno peppers or two hot green peppers,
1/2 cup toasted, ground cashews,
3 tbsp vegetable oil,
1 tbsp cumin seeds,
1 tbsp. coriander seeds,
1tsp turmeric,
salt and pepper,
juice from one lime,
coriander leaves to serve.

1. Place onion, garlic, ginger and jalapenos in a blender. Add about 1/3 cup water and blend all the ingredients until a smooth paste forms.
2. Heat the oil in a large heavy duty frying pan. Add cumin seeds and toast them for about 30 seconds, until they get darker and fragrant. Add coriander seeds, turmeric, and ground cashews, and mix all the ingredients.
3. Pour in the jalapeno paste and fry until water evaporates.

4. Add tomatoes and parsnip to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in about a cup of water, mix and let it simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes until parsnip is tender. Add extra water if parsnip is still hard. If sauce is too watery at the end boil it quickly until the liquid evaporates and sauce thickens.
5. Add lime juice to the dish and cook for another minute. Before serving, sprinkle with fresh, chopped coriander leaves.
Serve with flat breads.