During Autumn in New York, we’ve got our eyes up in the trees, taking in all of that fancy lookin’ foliage. This Fall, though, we’re turning our attention underground – all the way to the roots. That's right, apples and pears, it's time to share the seasonal spotlight with the autumnal underdogs. Often overlooked, root veggies are rich with flavor and healthy opportunities. We visited the experts for their take on these tasty subterranean veggies. Haven’t tried them before? Well, we're ready to change that.
The Cinnamon Snail food truck has become synonymous with all things delicious and vegetarian on its journeys across the Hudson. The roving eats began their commute between the Snail’s home base in Red Bank, NJ and different locations around NYC about four years ago. Back on Valentine’s Day in 2010, it became the first organic vegan food truck in the country. Today they're offer a seasonal menu with breakfast, lunch and the luxurious vegan donuts our dreams are made of.
For owner and chef Adam Sobel, Autumn is a chance to make his favorite root vegetables shine. “I grow a lot of them out in my garden in New Jersey. Turnips, celery root, carrots — those are my main jam.” he says. But what really gets him going? Parsnips. "They’re the all-star of the root vegetable team.” And for good reason – on top of their flavor, they’re pretty darn healthy. “I’m always seeking out a good source of Vitamin B12 for my family, and the outermost skin of root vegetables is a great source of it.” He’s not kidding. According to the experts at the National Institute of Health, not only is B12 vital to our nerve and blood cells, it helps generate DNA. Sounds like a bona fide V.I.P. to us.
But what do we do with the root veggies? Sobel’s got some suggestions. “You can do a lot of things with them that you might do with starchier, blander vegetables like potatoes.” He recommends starting off with recipes we’d typically use on ye old spud: think parsnip french fries or crunchy parsnip matchsticks. Frites we can feel good about? It’s true. Sobel explains. “It makes a healthy version of crappy snack food or a very legit and beautiful way to finish off an entree.”
For those of us without a mandolin or the patience for endless chopping, Sobel suggests getting creative with soup, parsnip au gratin or fresh salads. For a creamy Autumn soup, Sobel chops parsnips up with cauliflower or potato and fresh herbs then purées the whole thing. And for a savory au gratin – roast the thinly sliced ‘snips with a pine nut or cashew cream. Feeling ambitious? We recommend a parsnip salad. “I like to use a spiralizer to shred them into long curls, like very long, thin ribbons, and use them in salads with pears, apples, arugula and mustard greens.” Now that’s some greens we can get behind.
This fall, the humble parsnip gets an elegant seasonal styling over in the Snail’s kitchen as part of their Thanksgiving Sandoo sandwich. Sobel steams the underground beauties before puréeing them with fresh mint, sage, thyme, black pepper and olive oil. Next, he roasts the mixture with chunks of bread and coconut butter. This heavenly concoction roasts for 25 minutes covered, then 15 minutes uncovered, culminating in an awesome Thanksgiving stuffing. For the Thanksgiving Sandoo, Sobel fills a grilled baguette with this parsnip bread pudding, then tops it off with porcini mushroom simmered seitan, marinated kale, orange cranberry relish and roasted garlic aioli. Together, it’s got the rich flavor folks might miss in a typical vegan dish. (Although, we’d say nothing is a typical vegan dish over at the Snail.)
Ready to try some parsnips? Follow The Cinnamon Snail on twitter or Facebook to see where they’ll be, or pick up some fresh root veggies at the local farmer’s market while they’re in season and get to slicin’, steamin’ and fryin’.