New Produce, New Techniques

Parsnips and Artichokes

Two types of produce that I had never before purchased were parsnips and artichokes.  The reason for parsnips:  my husband hated them from his childhood; could I find a way to make them taste OK?  (We never had them at all in my home growing up.)  The reason for artichokes:  they were a total mystery, so figuring out to cook and eat them would be a challenge.  Parsnips were $1.99 /pound, and I bought 2 pounds.  Artichokes were $0.99 each, a real sale price since they are in season.  I bought 6, having no idea how much or little food that might be.

Parsnip “fries” seemed like a good starting place to try to change my husband’s mind about parsnips.  After all, he really like the potato “fries” I made last week.   I found “Bombay Parsnip and Carrot Fries” in The Frugal Paleo Cookbook by Ciarra Hannah (checked out from the library).

parsnip fries recipe

The “Indian Seasoning Blend” is 3/4 tsp ground cumin, 3/4 tsp ground coriander, 3/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon. I kept a small quantity without the Indian Seasoning for comparison.

This time I remembered to photograph my beautiful fries before we ate them all.  The seasoning was great!  A parsnip success!

parsnip fries 4parsnip fries 5


My husband’s unhappy parsnip memories involved “my Mom baked them in the oven, and I hated them”.  Now the challenge would be to find a recipe that baked them flavorfully.  “Creamy Baked Parsnips with Thyme” looked mighty good to me (  I prepared the recipe using grated Manchego cheese, knowing the leftover block would disappear quickly as appetizer snacks.  I had to hunt awhile at the grocery store for whole milk yogurt; that is not an ingredient I had used before.

I thought the baked parsnips tasted great!  My husband conceded they were pretty good, but maintained the ingredients would be better used on potatoes!

creamy parsnips



The third parsnip use would be just to add them to a slow-cooker meal.  I found an interesting looking recipe in January 2017 “Eating Well” magazine, “Slow-Cooker Braised Beef”.  But wait, I thought the recipe said carrots and parsnips…too late, the pot roast has already been thawed.  Parsnips should work as well as turnips…

slow cooker recipe

This recipe used a combination of spices for the pot roast that I would never have considered:  cinnamon, allspice, and cloves along with the salt and pepper.  The result was quite tasty, and I thought the stewing liquid really gave the parsnips the best taste of all the methods I tried.

I made the polenta side dish, too, and that went very well with the tomato-ey sauce.





Since I had no idea how to tackle the artichokes (I had never even touched one before Saturday morning), I headed for my trusty 1972 Betty Crocker cookbook.  Betty would tell me what to do.

I turned to page 414 for not only a recipe, but also how to eat the thing.  Yes!  I figured I would really get fancy and make the suggested hollandaise sauce from page 357.

boiled artichokes recipeHollandaise

I found a kettle that would let me cook 3 at once.  I read somewhere online that you want to keep them inverted while boiling, so I weighed them down with a lid to keep them from turning over.  While they simmered I prepared the hollandaise, which I thought came together pretty nicely.

Well, maybe artichoke is an acquired taste, though it was kind of interesting how you eat them by drawing the petals (yeah!  they are a flower!) through your teeth to eat the meaty part of the petal.  My husband and I had part of one of them served warm with the hollandaise sauce (which had too much lemon to my taste…).  The other two went into the refrigerator…maybe they are better chilled with a dip?



Perhaps boiling isn’t the best way to enjoy them?  So online I found a recipe to roast them instead.  The next evening I tried “Roasted Artichokes with Lemon Tarragon Butter” ( ).  The prep on this was much quicker.  The lemon tarragon butter was GREAT, but the artichoke petals were leathery.  We ate even less of this artichoke, though I did make an effort to at least consume the meaty heart.



My third try was an artichoke soup recipe ( ) .  This one seemed really safe, it looked mostly like a potato/onion soup with some artichoke added.

potatoes and stock

For this preparation, it was necessary to get to the heart of the artichoke before cooking.  This felt like a plant anatomy class.  When the artichoke is raw you can clearly see the center flower disk, called the choke.  All those little hairy fibers would make you choke if you ate them, so the name is apt.  The heart disk you end up with is sure not much of the whole artichoke globe!

petals plucked

Petals removed


You can see why they call it the choke.


the heart

The heart of the artichoke

Since I was only preparing half the recipe, I needed 2 1/2 artichoke hearts.  I used the last two raw artichokes to prepare 2 of the hearts.  Those were sautéed in butter as per the recipe.  Since I still needed at least 1/2 more heart, I went to one of the leftover boiled artichokes, plucked off the cooked petals*, cut away the choke, and added the boiled, chopped artichoke heart at the same time as the potatoes.  Beyond finding the heart of the artichoke, the other highlight of this soup prep was I actually used the food mill that has been in my kitchen for decades (it lives in the turkey roasting pan) but perhaps used only 3 or 4 times.

puree soup

I have the soup stored at the “make ahead” stage.  It tasted pretty good so far, and adding butter and cream before serving will only make it better!  I just am not sure I can identify the artichoke flavor amidst the onions, garlic, and other spices.

(*I still have one boiled artichoke in the refrigerator.  I will try eating that cold with a lemon tarragon butter dip.)


Shopping this week included more produce than I usually buy. ( I am pretty sure I should not buy a CSA share, just don’t think with only 2 of us in the house we would get through all the produce.  I will still visit farmers markets, though.)   I think I didn’t eat more produce, just different produce.  It was rather an effort to consume the parsnips and artichokes since we just didn’t consider them favorites.  The recipes I chose used shallots, leek, and fresh herbs beyond the parsnip and artichoke star players, which were not in my “staples”.  I also had to purchase avocado oil and coriander, but those can be used in many recipes moving forward.

I see just now the challenge to include the produce in a breakfast.  Hmmm, maybe I can try turning some of the creamy baked parsnips into something like hash browns?  Wish me luck!                                                                                                   –Janet Anderson


One thought on “New Produce, New Techniques

  1. RobinS says:

    Oh, my! You went above and beyond the call of duty, but it appears that you learned a lot along the way.
    Artichokes are a funny thing – not much to them, tricky to eat, and they are so expensive!
    Parsnips, on the other hand, are easy to prepare and grown in the midwest.
    I love that you persevered until you found a preparation that your husband liked – I’m a firm believer that folks who claim they don’t like a vegetable just haven’t found a way to prepare it that’s appealing to their palate.
    Some of the local coops are selling local parsnips that have been over-wintered (leaving them in the ground until the ground thaws brings out their natural sweetness) and, in my opinion, makes for a super wonderful root vegetable.
    Thanks for sharing – good luck with the hash browns.


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