Seasonal local food recipe No. 345 – Nigel’s Christmas vegetarian loaf

I would have made this parsnip loaf from Nigel Slater in The Guardian if I hadn’t received a request from my son for roast parsnips.  Its herb flavourings and seedy texture do sound delicious, so I will try it at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Serves 6

Preparation time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

parsnips 500g
carrots 250g
apple 1
butter 75g
onions 2, medium
garlic 2 large cloves
parsley 2 heaped tbsp, chopped
rosemary needles 2 tbsp
thyme leaves 1 tbsp
hemp seeds 1 tbsp
pumpkin seeds 1 tbsp
sunflower seeds 1 tbsp
poppy seeds 1 tbsp
eggs 2
butter for greasing the loaf tin
thyme sprigs 8

You will also need a loaf tin measuring about 22cm x 12cm x 8cm, lined with baking parchment.

Peel the parsnips, then cut lengthways into quarters. Grate them finely using the coarse blade of a food processor, slightly thinner than matchsticks, then do the same with the carrot. (I don’t find it necessary to peel the carrots, only to scrub them with a vegetable brush.) Grate the apple, without peeling it, and add to the bowl.

Warm half the butter in a shallow pan, then add the grated root vegetables and apple and let them cook, for 3 or 4 minutes, until they are bright and approaching softness. Tip them into a large mixing bowl. Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.

Peel, halve and finely slice the onions. Melt the remaining butter in the shallow pan then cook the onion until it is soft and pale gold. Peel the garlic, crush finely then add to the onion and continue cooking. Tip the onion and garlic into the bowl with the carrots and parsnips. Add the chopped parsley to the mixture then finely chop the rosemary needles and thyme and add them, too. Add the hemp, pumpkin, sunflower and poppy seeds and a generous grinding of salt and pepper.

Break the eggs into a bowl, beat them lightly to combine yolks and whites, then fold into the mixture. Combine the ingredients making sure the seeds, eggs and herbs are evenly distributed.

Line the loaf tin with baking parchment then butter it generously. Scatter a few thyme sprigs over the bottom of the tin. Transfer the mixture into the loaf tin, pressing it firmly into place. Smooth the surface level and cover with buttered parchment. Place the loaf tin on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until lightly firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and leave to settle for 10 minutes then turn out of the tin and carefully peel away the paper. Cut into slices and serve with the sauce (below) or Cumberland or cranberry sauce.

Stout and onion gravy
A dark and deeply-flavoured accompaniment for this loaf, but also good for spooning over baked vegetables or a slice of pie.

Enough for 6
onions 2, medium
butter 40g
garlic 3 cloves
button mushrooms 250g
olive oil 3 tbsp
thyme sprigs 8
plain flour 1-2 tbsp
vegetable stock 250ml, hot
stout or other dark beer 250ml
fruit jelly, such as redcurrant 4 tbsp


Peel the onions, cut them in half from stem to root, then slice each half into thin segments. Warm the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and leave to cook over a medium heat. Peel and thinly slice the garlic, add to the onions and continue cooking for a good 15-20 minutes until the onions are thoroughly soft, golden and sweet.

Slice or quarter the button mushrooms as you wish then add them, together with the oil, to the onions. Pull the thyme leaves from their stalks then stir into the onions and mushrooms. When the mushrooms are soft and nut brown, scatter the flour over the surface, stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour in the stock and stout and bring to the boil. While stirring, lower the heat, season with salt and black pepper, then leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Stir in the redcurrant or other fruit jelly, taste for sweetness, adding more if you wish. You are after a nicely-balanced gravy – savoury and sweet with a deep, wintry character.

Seasonal local food recipe No.209 – Christmas roasted vegetables with honey and spice

This dead-simple combination of winter vegetables works well with turkey or ham. There’s time to cook it while the turkey rests. The recipe is part of the Season’s Eatings (groan!) mini-series from John Lewis.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

1 mini squash
4 carrots
4 parsnips
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
3cm ginger root, grated
large pinch of allspice

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Scrub the carrots and parsnips (don’t peel) and cut lengthways into evenly sized chunks. Peel the squash and cut into thick slices, removing the seeds. Place the vegetables in a roasting tray with the garlic cloves. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir well so the vegetables are coated. There should be enough space for them to sit in a single layer or they will steam instead of roasting.

Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender. Meanwhile combine the honey, ginger and allspice. Ten minutes before the end of cooking remove the veg from the oven and pour over the glaze. Return to the oven until sticky and caramelised.

Seasonal local recipe No.206 – Root vegetable tangle

This is from Nigel Slater’s new Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food

Serves: 2 (light main course) or 4 (side dish)

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

potatoes, parsnip, carrots, onion, rosemary, pumpkin seeds, olive oil

Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6. Shave 250g potatoes, a large parsnip and 2 large carrots with a vegetable peeler. Peel and finely slice an onion into rings.

Toss the potatoes, parsnips, carrots and onion in a large mixing bowl with a heaped tablespoon of rosemary leaves, 5 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, then tip on to a baking sheet. Spread out into a shallow layer. Bake for 20 minutes, till tender and lightly crisp on the edges.

parsnips-camel csa

Seasonal local recipe No 172: Hugh’s curry-spiced parsnips and potatoes


This makes a simple supper in the aftermath of rich festive food and drink. Great made with the parsnips, potatoes, garlic and chillies from Camel CSA’s Christmas veg boxes.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall takes the French to task for not eating parsnips. Parsnips aren’t part of a traditional Scottish diet either (no jokes about deep-fried Mars bars please…)  To be honest, I never ate parsnips until I moved from Scotland to England. Scots prefer neeps, but I’m a willing convert.

Hugh says: “This is gorgous with simply cooked fish but stands as a dish on its own with a salad and a spoonful of thick yoghurt.” Can’t wait to give it a try.

Serves: 2-3

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

About 500g potatoes
About 500g parsnips
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped

For the curry spice mix
1 tbsp coriander seeds
Half a dozen black peppercorns
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp fine sea salt

First make the spice mix. Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Put the coriander seeds and black peppercorns in a dry frying pan and toast over a gentle heat for a few minutes, until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and leave to cool. Add the chilli flakes, then crush the lot to a coarse powder and mix with the fenugreek, turmeric and salt.

Peel the spuds and cut into 3-4cm chunks. Put them in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute only, then take off the heat and drain well.

Peel the parsnips, cut into similar sized chunks to the potatoes (remove the core if it seems tough or woody) and add to the potatoes.

Pour the oil into a large, shallow roasting dish and heat in the oven for five minutes. Tip the potatoes and parsnips into the hot oil, add the spice mix and toss so the veg get a good coating of spice. Roast for 40 minutes, giving them a stir halfway through, or until golden and crisp. Stir in the garlic and return to the oven for two to three minutes. Serve straight away, with thick, plain yoghurt and perhaps mango chutney.

Seasonal local recipe No 123: Three-root boulangère

With a selection of roots in our boxes this week – and with the weather getting colder – it seems a good idea to try this ‘comfort food’ recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day. He says that while it’s not exactly ‘light’, it’s certainly less rich than a creamy dauphinoise-style gratin.

You could also substitute other seasonal roots such as Jerusalem artichokes, carrots or swede which would all work well. Good served with some big flat field mushrooms simply baked with some butter, garlic and cheese, and some good bread.

Serves 4

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: about an hour

30g butter
2 onions, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small celeriac
2 large potatoes
3 large parsnips
a couple of sprigs of thyme, leaves only, chopped
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
about 1.2 litres vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven the 180C/gas 4. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and use some of it to grease a large gratin dish. Add the onions to the pan and sauté over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until soft, then add the garlic and cook gently for a further minute or two.

Meanwhile, peel the celeriac, potatoes and parsnips and cut into slices the thickness of a 10p piece, slicing the parsnips lengthways. Spread out the celeriac in the gratin dish, season generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with half the onions and half the herbs. Layer the parsnips on top, then scatter the remaining onions and herbs on top and finish with a layer of potatoes.

Bring the stock to a simmer and add some salt and pepper, then pour over the vegetables to barely cover them (you may not need all of it). Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and continue to bake for another 30 minutes or so until the vegetables are cooked.

At this point, if there is still liquid covering the potatoes, spoon off a little and return the dish to the oven for 15 minutes or so, to brown the potatoes on the top. Serve piping hot.

Seasonal local recipe No 122: Curried parsnip soup

Another British cookery classic – this time from the late Jane Grigson. This was one of her favourite recipes and tastes all the better the day after you make it.

Her daughter Sophie Grigson is carrying on the tradition and makes this soup too. For the carnivores among you – it does bring out the flavour if you use beef stock, rather than chicken or vegetable.

You can substitute the freshly-ground spice mixture with a half tablespoon of curry powder or curry paste, but it’s not nearly as good as the real thing. I use creme fraiche rather than whipping cream.

Serves: 4

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

1 medium sized onion
1 large clove of garlic, halved
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks
45 g butter
1 tbsp plain flour
A pinch of black pepper
1 litre beef stock (or chicken or vegetable stock)
150 ml whipping cream
A handful of chopped chives or parsley

For the spice mixture:
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
0.25 tsp fenugreek seeds
0.5 tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 tsp turmeric

To make the spice mix, dry fry the first three spices in a small, heavy frying pan over a moderate heat until toasted and aromatic. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool, and then grind to a powder with the chilli and turmeric. Store in an airtight jar.

Sweat the onion, garlic and parsnip gently in the butter, with the lid on the pan, for 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and a tablespoon of the spice blend, plus a little salt. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour in the stock, gradually. Bring up to the boil and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the parsnip is very tender.

Liquidise the mixture, adding water or more stock if you have any to hand, until he soup has a similar consistency to double cream. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Reheat when needed, stir in the cream and serve scattered with chives or parsley.

Seasonal local food recipe No 83: Smoked haddock and parsnip fishcakes

From Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook. Good with a sharp tartare sauce or mustard mayonnaise, she says. They freeze well, so you can make lots in one go.

For 8 fishcakes

Preparation and cooking: 40 minutes

½ onion, chopped
75g streaky bacon, chopped
300g smoked haddock
1 bay leaf
6 cloves
275 milk
150g parsnips, chopped
150g potatoes, chopped
10g butter
chopped parsley
1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
salt and black pepper
seasoned flour
1 egg, beaten
80g white breadcrumbs
olive oil, for frying

Cook the onion with the bacon over a moderate heat for 10 minutes and put to one side.
Put the smoked haddock into a pan, together with the bay leaf and cloves. Pour over the milk, cover and bring to the boil. As soon as the milk boils, remove from the heat and allow the fish to cool in the liquid.

Boil or steam the parsnips and potatoes together until they are tender. Mash them with the butter and a dash of the boiled milk and season well.

Combine the onions, bacon, mashed potatoes and parships, parsley and chilli, if using. Barely flake the fish, and fold carefully into the vegetable mixture. The fishcakes are far nicer if the flakes of fish are intact. Adjust the seasoning.

Dust your hand with seasoned flour and shape balls of the mixture into cakes. Dip these into the beaten egg and coat with the breadcrumbs.

Shallow-fry in the olive oil until golden or bake for 15-20 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C/gas mark 4. They can be made in advance and kept on a baking tray in the fridge until you want to cook them.

Seasonal local food recipe No 80: Three-root mash

From Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who says: “Of course, you don’t have to stick to three roots: you could use two, four or as many as suits you. Do always include potatoes, however, to give the mash body and to stop it getting too sweet.”

Swede or celeriac could also be used as a mash with potatoes.

Serves 6

Preparation and cooking: 30 minutes

500g carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
500g parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
500g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
50g unsalted butter or 50ml rapeseed oil
100ml milk (or half milk and half double cream)
freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the carrots and parsnips in a pan of boiling salted water until tender. Cook the potatoes in a separate pan. Drain the vegetables and let them steam dry for a minute or two.

Put the carrots and pasnips in a food processor (or mash with a potato masher), with half the butter or oil, and blend to a creamy puree. Heat the milk and the remaining butter or oil in the pan in which the potatoes were cooked, then add the potatoes and mash until smooth.

Combine the mashed vegetables, adding plenty of seasoning, including nutmeg if you like, to make a creamy, golden mash. Serve steaming hot, with sausages or roast lamb or venison.

Seasonal local food recipe No 73: Parsnips baked with Cornish Yarg cheese


Nigel Slater (sorry, it’s him again!) describes this as a ‘shallow cake along the lines of a pan haggerty, made with thin slices of root layered with grated cheese and herbs’ (Tender Volume I). He suggests using Cornish Yarg cheese – the one coated with stinging nettle leaves.

Serves 2 as a main, with winter salad as a side

Preparation: about an hour, including cooking

a large onion
75g butter
2 large parsnips
leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs of thyme
100g cheese – Cornish Yarg or Gruyere
100ml vegetable stock

Set the oven at 200C/Gas 6. Peel the onion and cut into paper-thin rings. Melt half the butter in a shallow ovenproof pan and gently fry the onion till soft and translucent. Stop before it colours.

Peel the parsnips and slice in fine discs – ‘so thin you can almost read through them’. Tip the onion out of the pan, place a layer or two of parsnips in it, brush with more melted butter and scatter over salt, pepper, some of the thyme and a little of the cheese. Do this twice more, ending with cheese. Pour over the stock.

Cover with lightly buttered greaseproof paper or foil, then place on a high shelf in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the paper and test the parsnips with a sharp knife; it should glide in effortlessly. Return to the oven, uncovered, for about ten minutes to brown. Serve straight from the pan.

Seasonal recipe No 21 – Root vegetable stew

This really tasty recipe comes from Riverford Organic Vegetables. It works just as well without the turnips – just add a bit more of the other roots.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

2 large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g puy lentils, rinsed
3 tbsp oil
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
250g carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
250g turnips, peeled and chopped
250g swede, peeled and chopped
250g parsnips, peeled and chopped
900ml vegetable stock
1 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper

Saute the onion in hot oil with the crushed garlic, until the onion is transparent.

Meanwhile, put the coriander and cumin seeds into a small pan and dry fry for a few minutes, stiring occasionally. Crush with a pestle and mortar. Add the seeds to the onion mixture and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the root vegetables to the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes. Add the lentils and stir well to mix. Pour in the stock and chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes (or cook in a medium oven) until the vegetables are tender and the lentils are soft.

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