Last month, Carlo and I headed to Portland, Oregon for a long weekend to check out the city as a potential place to move once Carlo graduates in May. We had an incredible time while we were there and after maybe 2 hours of walking through downtown, both Carlo and I looked at each other smiling and said that we could easily imagine ourselves living there and being very very happy.
We ate and drank our way around the city making sure to check out the incredible food cart phenomenon and some of our favourite microbreweries too. Pretty much everything we ate and drank was excellent, and even better, it was so cheap compared to eating out in Las Vegas.
One thing I loved about Portland was the prevalence of parsnips on many of the menus. I don’t know if parsnips just thrive in the cold and damp winters up there, but I’ve not seen so many parsnips in dishes outside of England! We ate breakfast at the Bijou Cafe downtown one morning and I ordered the roasted parsnip, spinach, bacon, and feta omelet. I never would have thought about putting parsnips in an omelet, but it worked and might have been one of the most flavourful omelets I’ve had in a long time.
This Jamie Oliver recipe for Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta is another creative combination that just works. The sauteed sweetness of the parsnips contrasts nicely with the smokey pancetta to create a comforting and easy pasta dish. This recipe makes enough for 4 dinners at $1.95 per serving.
Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta, adapted from Jaime Oliver
6 ounces sliced pancetta or bacon
1 handful of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
4 good knobs of butter
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
3 large parsnips, peeled, halved and finely sliced lengthways
16 ounces dried pasta, preferably tagliatelle, pappardelle or some other thick pasta
3 good handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large, non-stick frying pan, fry the pancetta and rosemary in half of the butter for 2 minutes, and then add the garlic and parsnips. Cook everything for 3 more minutes on a medium heat until the pancetta is slightly golden and the parsnips have softened nicely.
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet instructions and then drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Mix the pasta with the parsnips and pancetta and stir in the rest of the butter and the Parmesan. Add a little of the pasta cooking water to loosen the mixture and make a nice creamy and shiny sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then serve with a little more Parmesan cheese grated on top.