This recipe was part of the Christmas dinner that I made this past holiday season and it was such a huge hit that it’s starting to become one of my favorite easy side dishes. This is super simple to do and I have made it in advance on a weekend to have as a quick side dish during the week. The recipe is from Food and Wine magazine and was part of a larger Moroccan menu out of the December 2011 issue. The overall menu was perfect for an innovative and fun take on the standard holiday dinner, but for me, the real star of the dinner were these parsnips.
The original recipe called for sumac in the spiced yogurt, however since I didn’t have it on hand, I improvised with harissa. However, this is a great base recipe that you could have fun with and change up the spices in it to suit your mood.
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, smashed
3 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced on the diagonal 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 cups sliced pitted Medjool dates (about 12)
5 marjoram sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons harissa
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, heat the 3/4 cup of olive oil with the garlic and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and reserve for another use. Add half of the parsnips to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and barely tender, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the parsnips to a roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining parsnips, then scrape the parsnips and any oil into the roasting pan. Add the dates and marjoram sprigs, season with salt and pepper and roast for about 8 minutes, just until the parsnips are tender and the dates are slightly caramelized. Transfer the parsnips and dates to a platter.
In a bowl, whisk the yogurt with the lemon juice, harrisa and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt. Serve the roasted parsnips and dates, passing the spiced yogurt at the table.