Our local farmers market offered up a crate full of lovely, freshly dug parsnips last week, along with a recipe for Creamy Parsnip Hummus.  I bought the beauties shown here, and raced into the kitchen to try the recipe.  As I peeled and chopped these pretty white roots, which are native to the Mediterranean, I lessened my grip on the frost-belt-cook denial that summer is over and felt our palates – and bellies – getting ready to welcome the hearty sustaining vegetables of fall and winter. After all, parsnips and their ilk are legendary for
providing the ballast one needs to outrun the Cossacks, or at least feel pleasantly satiated on a cold day. These parsnips proved to be easy to chop, with none of the woody core that sometimes develops as the roots age. (If you’re confronted with woody parsnips, cut them lengthwise into quarters and slice out the core with a sharp knife.) Creamy Parsnip Hummus This recipe comes in two parts: the hummus itself and a lovely tahini sauce. As a variation, you can use half of the tahini sauce directly in the parsnip hummus and the other half can be added at the end.  Simply add ¼ cup of tahini sauce (or more, to taste) to the parsnip puree in the food processor. Ingredients: Tahini Sauce ¼ cup tahini ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil ¾ teaspoon ground cumin ¾ teaspoon chopped garlic (about 1 clove) 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste Place all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper. Hummus 1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks 1 tablespoon chopped garlic ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons ground cumin 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley ¼ cup pine nuts ½ recipe Tahini Sauce (see recipe above) Directions: 1. Make the Tahini Sauce and set aside. 2. Put the parsnip chunks into a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring them to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the parsnips for about 20 minutes, until they are very tender when squeezed with a pair of tongs. Drain in a colander, reserving 1 tablespoon of the cooking water. 3. Transfer the parsnips to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree with the reserved 1 tablespoon cooking liquid, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and half of the tahini sauce until smooth and creamy, for about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the hummus into a serving bowl and cool it to room temperature. 4. When the hummus has cooled, use the back of a large serving spoon to create a well in the center of the puree, big enough to hold about ¼ cup. Spoon the remaining tahini sauce into the center of the well. Garnish with parsley and serve with whole wheat pita bread triangles. Recipe courtesy of Chef Ana Sortun and Siena Farms. —Georgia

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