Taste Buds: Parsnips & Pears - Vegetarian Times

Taste Buds: Parsnips & Pears

We like to ask chefs and other foodies to share their favorite culinary pairings. Here's what Makini Howell—chef/owner of Seattle's Plum Bistro and author of Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro—loves about parsnips and pears.
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Photo: Charity Burggraaf

Makini Howell—chef/owner of Seattle's Plum Bistro and author of Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro—explains what she loves about parsnips and pears.

Parsnips have a slightly spicy flavor, and they add a buttery depth of flavor to a dish. Marry them with the Starkrimson pear, and the pear’s sweet and subtle floral hints balance the parsnip’s peppery notes. For a rustic, but still-fancy root veggie side dish, I cut parsnips in half, toss them in salt and pepper and olive oil, and roast them until they’re golden brown, then toss them with sliced raw Starkrimson red pears and candied ginger, and drizzle with a balsamic reduction.

This makes for a delicious accompaniment to pan-seared tempeh. Or, I blend my roasted parsnips into a purée, spread them on a crostini, and top with grilled Starkrimson pear and candied mint.

I also make a creamy parsnip-pear soup: I combine sliced parsnips and quartered Starkrimson pears in a skillet with vegan buttery spread, equal amounts of white wine and no-chicken broth, the juice of one lemon, fresh ginger slices, a bay leaf, and a pinch each of sugar and red pepper flakes; I partially cover, and boil until the liquid evaporates and the pears brown. After removing the bay leaf, I scrape all contents into a blender, add veggie or no-chicken broth, then blend until smooth, pour back into the pan, heat, and serve with candied ginger on top.

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What are your favorite ways to eat parsnips and pears? Share in the comments!