Yes, it is a real luxury using decent olive oil to cook in, but it’s worth it for the parsnips that it produces, which are tender and flavoursome on the inside, crisp and golden on the outside. They’ll taste good the day after too. The oil doesn’t go to waste, as its ideal for dressing, having been infused with flavour of garlic and spices. Balsamic pearls provide sweet and sharps pops of flavour, which stop the parsnips become too cloying, whilst the smoked paprika brings a mellow warmth.
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and lightly crushed
3 sprigs rosemary
2 bay fresh bay leaves
1 small cinnamon stick
½ tsp black peppercorns
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp fennel seeds
1 litre Early Harvest olive oil
1 tbsp Balsamic Pearls
¼ – ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika, depending on taste
Wash the parsnips then trim the top and bottoms. Unless they skin is very thick there is no need to peel them. If large, cut the parsnips into quarters and remove the hard core. If the parsnips are small, then cut in half. Sprinkle with salt in a bowl or tray and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat an oven to 130C. Pour the olive oil into a pan and add the garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon, peppercorns, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds. Place on a low heat to allow the flavours to get to know each other, but don’t let the oil get too hot. Wipe the parsnips of any salt and moisture and place in a deep baking dish, so that the parsnips are a snug fit. Pour the olive oil over the top, along with all the aromatics. Cover with baking parchment, wrap with foil and then carefully place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the dish, taking care as the oil will be hot and check to see if the parsnips are cooked by inserting a sharp knife into one. If there is any resistance then cook for a further 10 minutes, but if not, uncover and allow to cool.
Place a frying pan on a medium heat and add a spoonful of the parsnip oil. Using a slotted spoon, remove the parsnips from the oil and cook in the pan in batches, for around 2 -3 minutes each side, so they are crisp and golden. They can be kept warm until ready to eat or if serving right away, spread across a warm plate, dust with the smoked paprika then top with the Balsamic Pearls.