It feels a little odd to wax poetically about fluffy parsnip puree in the presence of Meyer lemons right now. It’s a little precious. A little too perfect. Certainly the opposite of how I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve been a tad cranky.
Impervious also comes to mind. I’ve been listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock” on repeat. A lot. I’ve been unmoved at the sight of my tulips peaking up from the earth. (Which is odd, considering the deep, dark winter we’ve had.) Truthfully, I think I’m just exhausted from life at the moment.
Luckily, this dish came along and brightened my spirits a bit. It’s full of hope: scallops resting on clouds of parsnips. You may have noticed the recipe title lists the parsnips before the scallops. In a world where the scallop is king, here he’s almost more of a condiment. Though the scallops’ sweetness really elevates the dish and I think it would be a mistake to forgo them, it’s the parsnip that is the true star.
If you are lucky enough to find a farmer that has been keeping his parsnips all winter, you’ll perhaps find that they are unusually delicious; parsnips that have been sulking underground in the cold get sweeter when picked during the last days of winter or beginning whispers of spring. (One can only hope the same will soon be true for me.)
A tad skeptical on the pleasures of parsnips? It’s never a bad idea to invest in a little decadence. The addition of heavy cream, a vinegar syrup reduction, and a dose of floral Myer lemon may very well change your mind.
Or it could be that you’ve never had parsnips the way chef Jeremy Sewall intended. I was lucky to attend a dinner talk hosted by Island Creek Oyster Bar where he served this fantastic dish. He also had some gnocchi tossed in this recipe, but right now I know my limits. A mercurial temperament and dough associated with carefree lightness do not mix. I had to fill in some holes in the recipe (and sadly part with the gnocchi portion), but I think the dish came close to my first tasting of it at the talk.
Add a glass of muscadet (or perhaps a few swigs straight from the bottle, depending on your day) and consider yourself brightened. It really is a nice way to welcome spring. We won’t have Meyer lemons for much longer, so best to enjoy while you can. And for right now, I’ve got my Meyer lemons and my parsnips to protect me. I am shielded in a creamy puree. (Cue Simon and Garfunkel.)
Meyer Lemon Parsnip Puree with Seared Scallops