Like any kid, I was pretty enamored with McDonalds french fries. For little me and my little hands, they were like golden, salty, magic wands, able to appease even the worst of my temper tantrums and toddler breakdowns.
Because my mom loved me, and wanted me to eat anything that resembled a vegetable, sometimes she cooked fries at home. Even with her best intentions, the freezer-burnt-flavoured undertones coupled with the unmistakable tinge of plastic bag shone through, and the texture was never right – damp and flaccid. Sickatating. There was just no foolin’ me. This was not Mickey D’s.
Years later, I still like a good fry. There’s a chip truck on the road to my cottage in Canada that my dad stops at from time to time and truth be told, I stick my eager fingers into that grease-soaked cardboard container for a few golden crispy bits (the ones at the bottom are the best, am I right?). Yes, I always feel sick after, but it’s a healthy reminder of why I don’t eat like that every day…and sometimes it’s good to be bad, am I right?
This weekend, I just had a fry hankering. I remembered an incident at work last winter when I made a huge portion of parsley root fries to actually serve to customers, but they were so good I ‘accidentally’ ate them. All of them. Before they made it on to anyone’s plate. Oops. Amazing I still have a job.
But the thing I took from that experience other than being extremely full, was that parsley roots make for some darn fine fries. Who knew?
Woot, Woot, Parsley Root
Everyone knows parsley – it’s the brighten-things-up, light + leafy go-to herb. But did you know that there’s something delicious lurking underneath that bushy bunch of greens? It’s the root, and by golly you can eat that part too.
Although not as common as other root veggies, parsley root is extremely delicious. Its doppelganger is undoubtedly the parsnip and I am often fooled at the market even when they are side by side. If you’re a first-timer with this veggie, make sure to read the label because they seriously look almost identical.
The flavour of parsley root is kind of like an herb-y potato, which is why it makes such a lovely fry indeed. Somewhat less waxy than a potato however and with a higher water content, it will not get completely crispy in the oven, but certainly good and golden crunchy tips.
In terms of the health benefits, parsley root has been used for centuries to ease digestion, detoxify the body, and tonify the lungs and spleen. It is also helpful for those of you who are dieting (or cleansing!) after the holidays, as it has strong diuretic properties. Parsley is beneficial for urinary tract disorders, stones in the kidneys and bladder, nephritis, as well as for the adrenal and thyroid glands.
And again, nature provides us with what we need at just the right time of year: parsley root is an excellent blood-building food that is also warming to combat the winter chills – no coincidence there.
Key nutrients in parsley root include vitamin A, E, C, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
Pregnant women should be cautious with parsley (most specifically the leaves) as they contain an essential oil, apiole, which can cause uterine contractions.
And what’s with the ketchup you ask? I guess I just couldn’t go and make fries to eat with a store-bought sauce – I am a food snob after all. But seeing as tomatoes are anything but at their peak, I thought roasting them would be the perfect solution to bring out the sweetness with a touch smoky. Of course you can skip this whole sauce business, but if you’ve never made ketchup before, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is. I got fancy with some interesting flavours, like star anise and balsamic vinegar, but you can leave these out if you’re a purist.
It’s best to roast the tomatoes while you prepare the parsley roots. If you cook them all at the same time, there is too much moisture in the oven and the fries will get a little soggy.
Roasted Tomato Ketchup
Makes 2 cups
10 medium-sized tomatoes – about 2.2 lbs/1 kg
high-heat cooking oil
freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 star anise
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. ground coriander
pinch of chili flakes
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
apple cider vinegar to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C.
2. Wash and cut tomatoes in half. Place on a lined baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with oil and a pinch of sea salt. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes or so, until tomatoes are caramelized and fragrant.
3. While the tomatoes are cooking, heat some oil in a large pot and add onions, a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, garlic, chili flakes, star anise, bay leaves, and coriander. Cook until the onions soften slightly, about 5 minutes. When the bottom of the pot gets dry, “deglaze” the pot with balsamic vinegar.
4. Once slightly cool, place tomatoes and cooked onion mix (remove star anise and bay leaves, but save for later) in a food processor and blend on high to puree. Using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula, press puree through a mesh sieve back into the pot. (You can save the fibrous leftovers for Four Corners Lentil Soup or other tomato-based soup)
5. Add back the star anise and bay leaves, bring a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until thickened (5-10 minutes). Season to taste. If it is not tangy enough, add a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.
6. Once the ketchup has slightly cooled, pour into a clean glass container and store in the fridge for a week. Freezes well.
Parsley Root Fries
*Note: If you cannot find parsley root, this recipe is delicious with parsnips and celery root (celeriac).*
3 large parsley roots – about 1.5 lbs / 700 grams
high-heat cooking oil
freshly ground black pepper
fresh rosemary (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C.
2. Peel roots and cut them into french-fry sized sticks. The thinner, the crispier they will be. Toss with some oil, a few pinches of salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary if desired.
3. Roast for 20 minutes, toss, and place back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until golden on the edges with crispy ends and a tender center. Serve immediately with Roasted Tomato Ketchup.
If you’re still cleansing (way to go!!!), this recipe would be totally appropriate to make, but I would replace the balsamic vinegar in the ketchup with apple cider vinegar.
I hope you’re all sticking to the plan and feeling good. I am still loving the feedback from all of you participating so keep it up! I feel like we’re creating an army of healthy people – it’s awesome.
source: Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness. New York, NY: Penguin, 2003.
Copyright 2012 My New Roots at mynewroots.blogspot.com