Parsnips have been cooked in Europe since Roman times. Famous Roman foodie Apicius recorded four recipes in his De Re Coquinaria including Coriander Parsnips Cooked in Wine. Another interesting factoid is that they share a flavour compound with peas which makes them perfect partners.
The black garlic in the recipe arises from a challenge I was given by foodie, author and Guardian blogger Gloria Nichol. We had been discussing how this new fashion food was made. I did some research and Gloria eventually perfected the method as she relates here. Gloria was kind enough to send me some to sample as long as I came up with something novel. This is the first of my new recipes. Don't worry if you don't have black garlic, just use the normal stuff.
The taste of this pasta is complex. The sweet earthiness of the parsnips is enhanced by the meaty-toffee garlic and balanced with the innate sweetness of the peas. There's a slight creamy edge from the parmesan. The recipe is all held together with the smoky rosemary. What's even better is that once you've prepared the veg, the sauce cooks in the time it takes for the dried pasta to cook. If you're good with a knife, you could have lunch or dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.
I used spaghetti for this, taglietelle and papardelle would work well too.
300g parsnips, scrubbed or peeled and cut into strips about 5mm wide
2mm thick 3 sprigs rosemary, leave spicked
finely chopped 3-4 cloves black garlic sliced (or use 'normal' garlic – quantity to your taste)
A good glug or two of extra virgin olive oil
200g petit pois peas (I used frozen)
100g parmesan (or vegetarian hard cheese or similar) finely grated
sea salt & freshly gound black pepper to taste
75-100g dried pasta per person
Fresh calendula or nasturtium petals for garnish if available
Prepare your sauce ingredients. Heat half of the butter and a good glug of olive oil gently in a lidded saute pan or similar. Put the pasta on to cook in plenty of boiling salted water. My spaghetti takes about 8 minutes to cook. Add the parsnips, garlic and rosemary to the saute pan and fry over a high heat to start. Then turn down to low and cover to allow the parsnips to go tender. With 5 minutes to go, add the peas to the saute pan. Bring to a high heat, stir well and then turn down and recover the pan.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it saving some of the cooking water to help you loosen the vegetable sauce. Take the vegetables off the heat and mix in the parmesan cheese with enough cooking water to make a loose sauce. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Mix the sauce thororoughly with the pasta. Serve in bowls garnished with the flower petals.
Carl Legge lives on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales on a permaculture smallholding and is the authir of The Permaculture Kitchen, a book of seasonal, local, home-grown delicious recipes.