Even I, your comfort food comrade in arms, crave a salad every once in a while. But not just any old salad will do because if I’m going to sit down to a plate piled high with only green stuff I want it to be, well, interesting. This roasted parsnip salad, a salad I conjured up during a recent baking binge, is just that.
Attack of the Cheesecake
I blame the existence of this salad all on the cheesecake. Last week, splattered with cheesecake filling and dusted with graham cracker crumbs, I made not one, but two cheesecakes. The end result was a towering strawberry swirl cheesecake made with no less than three packages of cream cheese, a cup of heavy cream, and four eggs (recipe link coming soon!). The final product, buckling under its own decadent weight, teetered on the edge of cheesecake nirvana and completely absurd.
It was intense.
And was deep in the cheesecake testing that I made a roasted parsnip salad. It was like a mirage in a desert, except the desert was made of creamy soft cheesecake filling and the mirage, a big bowl of tender, caramelized parsnips, glimmered in the distance like an island of refuge from a major dessert overdose.
I mean, I love cheesecake, but even I have my limits.
Roasted Parsnip Salad
So, it’s because of cheesecake that I’m telling you about this roasted parsnip salad. Parsnips, a beige-colored root vegetable that looks like a carrot’s long lost cousin, love a hot oven. Roasting brings out their natural sweetness and they can stand alone as a great side dish, a note I made for the next time I make roast chicken, but today it’s all about a salad packed with all sorts of flavors and textures.
Some Ingredients You’ll Need
- Start by cooking some diced pancetta. As it sputters in the pan it will release some of it’s fat, which coats the parsnips before they take a nap in a hot oven. Save the crispy bits to garnish the salad.
- Arugula has a bitter taste, which complements the caramelized parsnips and sweet apples, but if spinach is more your thing, use it! You are the boss of your salad.
- Toss the arugula lightly in some olive oil and lemon juice. Keeping the dressing simple allows all the flavors shine.
Warm and tender roasted parsnips, crunchy apple, and crispy pancetta all tossed together with some arugula dressed lightly in olive oil and lemon. It’s enough for two veggie-craving people to share for dinner or serve it as a side for four. Starting the parsnips on the stove helps develop a nice caramelization before they roast and soften in the oven. By the time they’re done you can have the rest of the salad ready to go.
For the Salad
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into sticks
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- 4-5 handfuls of arugula
- 1 green apple, cut into matchsticks
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
For the Dressing
- Juice from ¼ lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Couple pinches of kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large oven-safe pan cook the pancetta over medium heat until it’s rendered its fat. Remove the pancetta leaving the fat in the pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the parsnips. Spread them in a an even layer, sprinkle with salt, and let them cook for a minute or two before giving them a stir. Once they’ve started to turn golden transfer the pan to the oven and roast them for 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender.
- While the parsnips are roasting, make the salad. In a large bowl whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt until combined. Add the arugula and gently toss until it’s coated with the dressing. Add the apple and toss again.
- When the parsnips are roasted let them cool a few minutes before adding to the salad. Add the grated Parmesan and crispy pancetta, toss, and serve.
More Salad Ideas
Green Bean Potato Salad Tuck this one away in your ‘perfect for every season’ file.
Orzo Pasta Salad It’s like a bowl of sunshine packed with chickpeas, orzo, broccoli, red bell pepper and a lemony dressing.
Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad Always a classic.