5th of November & 1st of the parsnips

Yesterday’s harvest: pak choi, turnips, beetroot, parsnips, leeks, mizuna, red cabbage, chives, coriander, lettuce

The autumn colours on the trees have been spectacular this year, and don’t they look stunning in all this sunshine? While grateful for the lovely mild weather, I’ve been waiting for a frost before harvesting the first of the parsnips, as that’s meant to sweeten and enhance their flavour.

Well, yesterday morning there was the thinnest veneer of frost on the car windscreen, so, with great excitement, I pulled up two parsnips… and what whoppers! I’ve failed on all previous attempts to grow parsnips so, even though they’re larger than I’d like, this really was a really special moment!

To top it all, the sweet, fragrant smell when they left the soil was one of the nicest surprises this year. I was planning roast parsnips, but the freshness put me in the mood to make a raw crunchy coleslaw to go with the celebratory Bonfire Night sausages. Please scroll down if you’d like the recipe!


I found this recipe on a great food and drink blog called Gin and Crumpets. I particularly liked the fact it’s made with a tasty dressing and not mayonnaise, which I find overpowers the vegetable flavours. But if you prefer it, just use that instead.

I made the dressing first, by shaking together in a jar:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons runny honey
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (I used English mustard instead of grainy)
  • salt and pepper (and I added a tiny amount of crushed fresh ginger for a bit of spicy warmth)

and poured it into a large bowl. Then I grated a load of veg into it (I used the cheese grater), stirring it into the dressing as I went along to stop it discolouring:

  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1 large apple
  • 2 large carrots
  • and 1/2 a red cabbage head, finely chopped

To top it off, I chopped up a handful of walnuts and stirred those in. This made a big bowlful (the photo above was the leftovers), so more than plenty for 4 of us.

Parsnips keep very well left in the soil, and more frosts will make them sweeter. If there is a likelihood of the ground itself freezing, cover the bed with fleece.

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