Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I have, in my untidy, packrat way, accumulated a surprising number of recipes that feature, or at least include, parsnips. I think I might have eaten parsnips once before I subscribed to this CSA, probably in a stew or something, so perhaps I’ve only actually only been collecting these parsnip recipes for a few years. I’m a little surprised that this kind of thing can really happen.

Even more surprising was a recipe that had I clipped from Cooking Light magazine, basically a parsnip slaw with the title…Are you ready for this?... “Mock Crab Salad.” I figured there wouldn’t be any actual crab in this salad (hence the title) but as I scanned the ingredient list, I also found nothing to replace it like “krab” or “imitation crab meat” or even “crab apples.” No. Just parsnips, a few crunchy vegetables and pimiento-stuffed green olives.

Sure, parsnips are pale in color like crab, and, shredded, they might resemble the texture of crabmeat. One, however, does not eat with one’s eyes. One demands more (at least I do.) And, sure, parsnips are kind of sweet like crabmeat, but they aren’t going to feel like crab on the palate, either. The recipe looked good enough, however, and seemed to be something I’d happily add to my ever-growing collection of winter vegetable slaws. I mocked its title, but I was going to make it and eat it. I had another surprise coming.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that this stuff tastes like crab salad, but when I took a first bite, I began to see where the recipe-writers were coming from. The creamy dressing and the sweetness of the parsnips really did bring to mind a seafood salad. Huh. Whadduhya know. I liked this seafood salad evocation so much that I put a sprinkle of Old Bay seafood seasoning in just for a kick. That worked, too.

I’m not going to perpetuate any of this foolishness by calling my version of this slaw, “Mock Crab Salad.” As anyone knows who has tried to replace their favorite meaty foods with ersatz vegetarian substitutes or has been told, “It tastes just like chicken,” such dish titles can only bring a pitchfork-and-torch-raising disappointment. How about if I leave out all the mockery and seafood expectations and simply call it “Creamy Parsnip Slaw with Peppers and Olives?” It’s a good little winter salad and won’t pretend to be anything else.

Creamy Parsnip Slaw with Peppers and Olives
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

2 cups peeled and shredded parsnip (I used the food processor)
¼ cup diced celery
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup pimiento-stuffed green olives
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon seafood seasoning blend, such as Old Bay (optional)

1. Combine the parsnip, celery, bell pepper, olives and onion in a medium-size bowl.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add to the parsnip mixture and stir until well-coated.

Makes about 4 servings. Chill leftovers, which will keep well for 2-3 days.

Other recipes like this one: Crunchy Cabbage, Cauliflower and Apple Salad; Broccoli Stem and Kohlrabi Slaw; Simple Shredded Carrot Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette

One year ago: Three Grain Salad with White Beans and Artichokes

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