Parsnips, Meet Cocoa Nibs

cocoa nibs 1 12.22.12I was inspired by a photo of roasted parsnips in the November issue of the English/Australian food magazine Delicious. Beautifully golden on a well-worn baking sheet, the parsnips had simply been halved, tossed with olive oil and parmesan, and roasted, destined to be pureed in a soup.

I got a different idea. I imagined them roasted with cocoa nibs.

So often (though not in that particular Delicious. article), it’s the sweetness in root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes that’s played up by adding maple syrup or brown sugar. Though I can appreciate any of these vegetables prepared that way, I prefer not to intensify the natural sweetness, but to play to the savory. It was when a friend, years ago, served mashed sweet potatoes with butter, salt and pepper that I realized I actually liked sweet potatoes. Til then I’d politely eaten sweeter preparations.

Adding cocoa nibs seemed a great direction to take savory.

I preheated the oven to 375°.

I peeled six medium parsnips, about 1 1/4 pounds, and cut them in half. I cut a thicker one in quarters. On a baking sheet, I tossed them with one or two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and a good handful of cocoa nibs (about 1/8 cup), then spread them out across the sheet. I roasted them on one side for 30 minutes, then flipped them over and checked again after another 20 minutes, the kitchen filling with the smell of parsnips and cocoa cooking. Golden and fork-tender…done.

Every time I take a bite of parsnips, I’m reminded how much I like them, and this was no exception. Their light banana-like sweetness worked well with what were now crispier toasted nibs. I ate them as is, though they’d pair well with a sauteed green.

A fun twist, now I see roasted cocoa nibs in the future of carrots, onions, eggplant…

A small note on cocoa nibs: The brand I used is Vintage Plantations, and they are Rainforest-Alliance-certified, which means they work within certain guidelines regarding ethical and sustainable environment and farming standards, as do cocoa and chocolate products which are fair-trade-certified.


4 thoughts on “Parsnips, Meet Cocoa Nibs

  1. HELP. How do you choose your olive oil. This one used extra virgin and I noticed above you used light. I visited a market that had at least 15 different urns you could choose from. I’ve always been confused but can’t help but think it matters.

  2. Oh my gosh, very informally! I’m no connoisseur! I When I made the parsnips I had one brand in the house, and the day I made the stuffed acorn squash, I was on to a new bottle that my husband had gotten, and it happened to be a lighter-bodied one, more golden in color than the deeper green ones that have a deeper olive taste. If I’d had a more olive-y olive oil in the house that day, I might’ve just gone with canola oil for the squash dish, ’cause I was thinking more of a neutral oil. I’m overwhelmed, too, when I see all the choices in front of me. So, just to narrow it down for myself, wherever I happen to be shopping, my guideline is to look for what’s organic, and then if it’s from California. Though I do buy Italian ones sometimes—after all, I’m Italian!—there has been some controversy about imported extra-virgin olive oils, even well known brands, about not being true extra-virgin, but mostly soybean oil! So I often go Californian. One non-organic California brand that has met the extra-virgin olive oil standard, and that’s a nice deeper-bodied one that I like is California Olive Ranch. In case you’re interested in checking out an article on this, here’s a link:

    • Thanks, Clara. I will have to share some of my truffle olive oil. Yummy on popcorn but who knows what you would think of! The infused oils are interesting.

      • Sounds great on popcorn! I bought a small bottle of a porcini/truffle oil infusion and have yet to play with it. Which is one of the reasons I started this blog, to make a point of using and trying all these great ingredients!

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