Parsnips are not exactly the spindly stalks of spring we have all begun to crave. But March is March and will continue to have its own way. Our best recourse is to turn to foods that are sweet and warm in nature and act like well seasoned logs on our trampled digestive fire.
Both parsnips, full of nutrients and minerals absorbed from soil deep underground, and sunflower seeds are said in Traditional Chinese Medicine to “tonify yang” most simply understood as a candle’s flame (yin its wax and life - the brilliant relationship between the two). In this recipe, they're combined with cilantro, all green and flirtatious and full of visual appeal, which not only offers a glimpse of spring but is said to “resolve the exterior” meaning the herb can help vent those inevitable head colds brought on by sporting one’s new sandals a month too soon.
Roast Parsnip Salad
For the most nutrient rich delicious salad use the ugliest toughest nubbiest wintered-over parsnips available.
6 large parsnips, peeled and cut into approximately 3 inch long sticks
2 tablespoons sunflower oil or other vegetable oil
Flaked sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 raw sunflower seeds
1 small bunch cilantro, tough stems trimmed
Heat oven to 425. Toss parsnips with one tablespoon sunflower oil. Season with salt and pepper and arrange on a baking sheet. Roast until parsnips are soft and golden brown (slightly charred and caramelized in places is OK too), about 40 minutes. Remove from oven.
Arrange on plates. Drizzle with remaining oil and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Scatter seeds and cilantro over roast parsnips and serve.
Frances Boswell is a licensed acupuncturist at her practice, Qi Sera Sera Acupuncture, in New York City. She focuses on a lesser-known branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which identifies poor diet as a common cause of disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine understands that the importance of food goes beyond ingredients' vitamins, mineral, nutrient and caloric content—food has its own energetic and spiritual role in our health. Frances' aim is to teach this ancient wisdom, apply it to everyday cooking, and work with patients to modify their diets, in addition to acupuncture, to help them live, eat, and be well. Contact Frances here.