There’s more than one way to make homemade parsnip pancakes. You could substitute shredded, raw parsnips for potatoes to make something akin to crisp-fried potato pancakes or latkes. You could sauté or roast parsnips and then fold them into a pancake batter just before frying. But the version here is more like standard breakfast pancakes, with boiled parsnips stirred into the batter for flavor. Incorporating the egg yolks separately and gently folding in the beaten whites makes the pancakes rise a bit, and counteracts the slight heaviness of the whole-wheat flour. The pancake will deflate in time, but I like to make these savory pancakes on the spot, depositing each one on someone’s plate for instant consumption, calling, “Come and get ’em while they’re butter-melting hot!”
• 1 medium parsnip (1/4 pound)
• 12 sorrel leaves
• 2 tsp salt, divided
• 6 tbsp butter, divided
• 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp ground nutmeg
• 2 large eggs, room temperature
• 1 cup milk
• 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the parsnip’s flesh into a pile. Then, chop the shavings coarsely. You should have about 1 cup, packed. Put them in a small saucepan with enough boiling water to cover. Simmer slowly for 5 minutes. Drain in strainer or colander.
2. De-stem the sorrel leaves and slice them into wide ribbons. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of the salt in 1 cup of cold water. Dip the leaves into the water and set aside on a towel.
3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and nutmeg in a bowl with the remaining teaspoon of salt. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a small bowl and the whites in a larger one that’s completely clean and dry. Beat the yolks with a fork or small whisk. In a medium-large bowl, combine the milk, drained parsnips, melted butter and egg yolks, and stir. Add the dry ingredients and fold in with as few strokes as possible. The batter should be a little lumpy.
4. Have the skillet prepped with another 2 tablespoons of butter ready to melt. Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat with a balloon whisk or an eggbeater until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Gently fold the beaten whites into the batter. Heat the skillet to medium to melt the butter. Use a serving spoon to drop the batter into the skillet. I make 4 pancakes at a time and add butter to the pan as needed. When bubbles form uniformly on the surface, flip each pancake to cook the other side. Set finished parsnip pancakes on warm plates. You can eat these homemade pancakes plain, or pass maple syrup and butter at the table.
Want to learn more about cooking with Parsnips and Sorrel? Read Growing and Cooking with Parsnips and Sorrel for more information and delicious recipes.
Barbara Damrosch writes at Four Season Farm in Maine, where spring comes late and sorrel’s early greening in the garden is much welcomed. She and her husband, Eliot Coleman, are co-authors of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.