Cookbook #50: Local Flavors

Adapted from Cookbook #50: Local Flavors  (2002)      
I ordered this book used from amazon; thus, no dust jacket.

Recipe:  Parsnip Galette with Greens      

Prior to this evening, my only experience with parsnips was Christmas Eve in Wales in 1994.   I had saved six months of paychecks from the pizza joint where I was flipping pies, and I purchased my first trans-Atlantic flight to visit my then boyfriend who was studying at the University of Swansea.  On Day One of a three-week trip, he broke up with me.  I told him that this was a poor decision on his part, as I planned to spend the next twenty days in Wales and he was going to show me around.

That winter of 1994, I was a vegetarian (as I have mentioned ad nauseam
in this blog).  The now ex-boyfriend's family was Welsh, and that Christmas Eve, we spent the day with his cousins in Swansea and then, I think, with an aunt and uncle in the remote town of Llanelli.  The aunt didn't know what to do with the vegetarian, so she made me a pile of mashed root vegetables.   Seriously, the mound of mashed parsnips, rutabagas, and potatoes was mind boggling--she tried to artfully arrange them in a plate-encompassing tricolor of pale, paler, palest.  I am sure she was as confused as I was when she placed the platter in front of me.


My dear Midwestern mother had taught me that as a guest you finish everything on your plate, so I hefted bite after bite of mashed, unsalted vegetable.  I am quite sure I had some rather histrionic thoughts about the injustices of vegetarianism in the Western British Isles and about the wrongs I would still endure for the ex-boyfriend in order to be polite.  In my mind, it was all very John Hughes.  I am also sure I mentally blamed the parsnips.  However, looking back, I understand that the parsnips were innocent;  they were shearly a matter of quantity rather than quality.  Further, I can only imagine this poor family must have been astonished by the prodigious amount of the tuber I could tuck away.  It was not a good situation for anyone.  That said, the ex-boyfriend made it up to me with a subsequent trip to Kidwelly Castle.  All in all, I think it was a fair trade: mound of parsnips for a 13th century Norman castle that featured prominently in the Fetchez la Vache scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The tuber...


All of this leads me to tonight's galette.  I was wary of the parsnip, as it has been a full 16 years since  our last acquaintance.  I peeled this tan tuber and then I grated it to the core as instructed.  I mixed it with two bunches of very tasty kale and some Parmesan cheese, and then I tossed in a full half cup of herbs and another half cup of walnuts (which I forgot to toast, but I think that no one noticed--I know I didn't).  I stirred around my two eggs and flour.  All in all, Deborah Madison did not steer me wrong with this galette.  It was as tasty as it was virtuous.  The parsnip and I have made a satisfying peace.

Kale during the boil...
Post boil kale... it cooks down quite a bit.

Of course, having Ms. Madison as the peace broker certainly makes such a diplomatic relationship possible.  She writes with a grace and sensitivity on her own blog about the relationship between humans and the earth, particularly in regards to vegetarianism.  Never scolding, she invites us to become vegetarian at best or to at least embrace some vegetarian tenants in our every day, omnivore cooking.  A student of the San Francisco Zen Center, Greens, and Chez Panisse, Madison packed her knives and apron and headed to Santa Fe twenty years ago, where she is co-director of the Monte del Sol Edible Kitchen Garden.  This cookbook itself is her homage to eating mindfully and locally from your farmers market.  Arranged by category (Roots and Tubers, Vining Fruits and Vegetables, Herbs and Alliums), Madison's cookbook chronicles over 100 farmers markets across the US and gives tips, stories, photographs, and recipes that are often seasonally if not regionally relevant.

Sage, oregano and rosemary
Walnuts, up close

I do think, however, next time I make this little galette, I will add more eggs.  I would like the grated parsnip and the chopped kale to hold together a little bit better as the current level of eggs seems a weak binder at best.  Perhaps two to three more eggs?  More of a frittata than a galette?  That's where I am leaning at least.  While this was clearly a tasty concoction to be enjoyed again, some tweaking might be in order.  

The concoction...
I dotted the top with a little butter... because a little butter can't hurt.

So, let this be a lesson to us all--Wales is worth exploring even if one has to exchange one giant vegetable mound for a castle, hearts are almost always mended with time and certainly some travel, and
parsnips are quite tasty when blended with herbs and eggs under the tutelage of Deborah Madison.


  1 large galette, serving 2

1/2 pound (2-3) parsnips
Salt and Pepper
  4 cups mixed cooking greens (tatsoi, red mustard, green mustard, kale, collards, chard--you name it)
  2 eggs [Perhaps, 2-3 more eggs would make this bind together a little better; more frittata, less galette]
  1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh sage, chopped [I used sage, rosemary and oregano]
  1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  Olive oil

  1. Heat a large pot of water for the greens.  While it's heating, peel the parsnips, then grate them lightly, stopping when you get to the core, which will be visible.  You should have about 2 cups.  Set aside.

  2.  When the water comes to a boil, add salt, plunge in the greens, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Taste to be sure.  Drain, press out much of the moisture, then chop coarsely. [In retrospect, I would actually destem the greens first; then throw in the boiling water.]

  3.  Beat the eggs, then whisk in the flour and 1 teaspoon salt.  Stir in the parsnips, greens, and cheese.  Season with pepper.  

4.  Melt the butter in an 8-inch nonstick skillet.  Add the sage and walnuts and cook, stirring frequently until they smell toasty and good, after just a few minutes.  Add them to the parsnip mixture.

5.  Wipe the skillet and add enough oil to coat lightly.  When hot, add the parsnip mixture and pat it evenly into the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.  Slide the galette onto a plate.  Place the skillet over it, and grasping both plat and skillet, flip them over.  Cook the second side until golden and crisp, then slide the galette onto a counter, cut into pieces, and serve.


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