Organic agriculture and biodiversity have in recent years brought about a rediscovery of many “forgotten” vegetables that people especially in Europe and France conscientiously tried to forget as they reminded them of the privations suffered during WWII. The same people had then to make do with untraditional vegetables because potatoes, carrots and so on were confiscated by occupying forces or their own armies.
With sustainibility and bioagriculture made more important by the deficiencies of modern mass agriculture, those “forgotten” vegetables have suddenly come to the fore for the pleasure of all, and that of course of vegetarians and vegans!
This particular series of postings will introduce these vegetables one by one. I hope they will become useful for a long time to come to all my vegan and vegetarian friends!
1) Scorsonere/Oyster Plant
The panais (French) or parsnip (English) is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler than most of them and have a stronger flavor.
Like carrots, parsnips are native to Eurasia and have been eaten there since ancient times. Zohary and Hopf note that the archeological evidence for the cultivation of the parsnip is “still rather limited,” and that Greek and Roman literary sources are a major source about its early use, but warn “there are some difficulties in distinguishing between parsnip and carrot (which, in Roman times, were white or purple) in classical writings since both vegetables seem to have been sometimes called pastinaca yet each vegetable appears to be well under cultivation in Roman times.” As pastinache comuni the “common” pastinaca figures in the long list of comestibles enjoyed by the Milanese given by Bonvesin de la Riva in his “Marvels of Milan” (1288).
Panais and carrots soup
While folk etymology sometimes assumes the name is an English portmanteau of parsley and turnip, it actually comes from Latin pastinum, a kind of fork, whose ending was changed to -nip by analogy with turnip because it was assumed to be a kind of turnip. It is among the closest relatives of parsley, which can be bred to develop a very parsnip-like root.
Panais are not grown in warm climates, since frost is necessary to develop their flavor. The panais is a favorite with gardeners in areas with short growing seasons. Sandy, loamy soil is preferred; silty, clay, and rocky soils are unsuitable as they produce short, forked roots.
Seeds can be planted in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Harvesting can begin in late fall after the first frost, and continue through winter until the ground freezes over.
More than almost any other vegetable seed, panais seed significantly deteriorates in viability if stored for long, so it is advisable to use fresh seed each year.
The parsnip is richer in vitamins and minerals than its close relative, the carrot. It is particularly rich in potassium with 600 mg per 100 g. The parsnip is also a good source of dietary fiber. 100 g of parsnip contains 55 Calories of energy.
Panais pot au feu
Until the potato arrived from the New World, its place in dishes was occupied by the panais and other root vegetables such as the turnip. Panais can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles.
In some cases, the panais is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root and contributing starch to thicken the dish. Roasted panais is considered an essential part of Christmas dinner in some parts of the English-speaking world and frequently features in the traditional Sunday Roast. Panais can also be fried, or can be eaten raw, although raw parsnips are not frequently consumed.
Like a lot of vegetables, the recipes are endless as panais can be easily combined with numerous other ingredients and dishes!
Choose them small as they wil contain less fibers.
Those which were submitted to a cold wave in the firelds are the best as they have become sweeter.
If you eat them raw like carrots, add lemon juice to them, or their colour will change!