Parsnip and kale pie

Parsnip almond pie

Parsnip almond pie

Hello again, Ordinary friends! I hope everybody had a peaceful joyful holiday. We did, although my bad cold has turned into something else lingering and painful in my head, which makes me feel like I’m under water. I couldn’t hear or think or smell or taste, and the past few days I’ve had a strange sleepy feeling of not being fully present. I must confess it’s given me the oddest feeling. Sometimes things work in your head but they don’t work in real life. Something you cook or write or draw makes so much sense when you think about it, but upon execution it’s just not quite right. Well, it almost felt that my whole life only worked in my head. My whole world that I’ve created for myself only worked in the isolation of its own little microcosm, everything contained in fragile little bubbles, and upon exposure to reality they *pop* and everything floats away, as insubstantial as you’d always feared it might be. I met a stranger and she asked what I did–she said, “What do you do?” And I panicked! I giggled and yelled “crossword puzzles!” Naw, I didn’t, but I think I might have babbled about how pretty my dog is. Not that it matters, but it’s a big question and I wasn’t ready for it. However, however, this morning Clio and I went for a long walk on the tow path, and it felt good to get back because it’s been so slick and icy it wasn’t walkable. And it’s remarkable how much color there is this time of year, if you really look for it. In the bark of the trees, and the lingering leaves, and the vines and the rocks and the moss and the pale golden green wintery light. In the pretty busy cedar waxwings and robins and cardinals. And we came to a place at the end of the path, where a golden field curved softly before us, all covered in frost, and an arch of pale cobbled clouds curved softly above us, glowing with morning light, and I swear, standing there between them you felt you could breathe it all in, you could inhale this hopeful light. Well, my spirits were elevated, my head cleared and I thought about rebuilding the world in my head. Which is after all a very strong and vivid world, most of the time, built on my very strong love for the boys and David and Clio and the towpath and this town and my new five blank notebooks and my new sea green pen with a small white whale on it and all of the stories I’ll write with it, which are in my head already, waiting to come out. And then I came home and coughed a lot, but minutes later I could actually smell Isaac’s new modeling clay, and I could feel things coming into focus. And this is what I did on my winter vacation.

Plus I made this parsnip pie. It has a filling of almonds, hazelnuts and eggs, seasoned with rosemary, nutmeg and lemon zest and mixed with roasted parsnips and bright kale. I think it probably tasted good. And that’s all I can say about that because I’m late for work!

Here’s Nina Simone with In the Morning, which has been stuck in my head for days.


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen (3/4 cup)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper


2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 cloves garlic
olive oil to coat (1 or 2 teaspoons)
1 small bunch kale, cleaned, stems removed, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
3 eggs, beaten, with 1 T set aside
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
zest of half a lemon
2 t fresh rosemary, chopped
pinch nutmeg
7 small grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise

First make the crust. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and pepper. Grate in the butter, mixing with a fork as you go. You should have a coarse and crumbly consistency. Mix in just enough ice water to make a workable dough. Knead very briefly to ensure that everything is incorporated, form into a flat disc, and wrap in foil. Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Meanwhile…preheat the oven to 425. Toss the parsnips with just enough olive oil to coat them in an even thin layer. Spread them on a baking sheet. Pierce the garlic cloves and put them on the edge of the sheet. Roast until the parsnips are golden brown and crispy outside and tender inside. 30 – 40 minutes depending on the size of your dice. Set them aside.

Meanwhile…bring a large pot of salted water to boil and drop in the kale. Boil until tender but bright, about 5 minutes. Rinse with cool water, drain, and roughly chop the kale, and then set it aside.

In a food processor combine the eggs, nuts and milk and process until completely smooth. Add the lemon zest, nutmeg and rosemary and process to combine. Add the cheese and process again. Add the parsnips and kale and process very briefly so that part of it is quite chunky, but part of it is smoother, and just flecked with kale and parsnip.

Preheat the oven to 425 again. Break the dough into two pieces, with one being about 3/4 of the total. Butter and flour a large tart pan or cake tin. Roll the dough to fit over the pan, and press it in to the corners and up the sides, leaving a little bit extra all the way around. Don’t worry about making it a perfect circle, but be sure to cover the whole pan. Pile the filling inside the crust. Press the halved tomatoes into the filling in a circle, with one or two in the middle.

Roll out the remainder of the crust and fit it over the top. Press the edges of the top and bottom crusts together and roll them down to seal them. Press with tines of a fork to be sure that the edges are sealed. Poke the top of the pie in a few places and brush with the reserved beaten egg.

Bake until puffed and dark golden brown, around 35 minutes. Let cool slightly, then slice and serve.


4 thoughts on “Parsnip and kale pie

  1. What a true portrayal of the ebb and flow of one’s world.

    A dear friend and I discussed that question ( what do you do) years ago. We lived in NYC and that question came up at parties, in subways, on the streets. My friend grew tired of the question gave the simple” i live” answer. When i was in a mood I used to say, “I work , sleep, eat, pee and poop and sometimes fart.”.

    Cedar waxwings! Tell them for heavens sake visit! We have cedar trees here.

    • Ah, the cedar waxwings are so pretty with their pale yellow bellies. I’ll send them your way if I see them tomorrow.

      It’s funny because I was just whining not long ago that nobody ever asks me what I do. It was nice of her to ask, but I think it’s okay not to have a tidy answer.

      I like yours and your friend’s answers!

  2. I have the same illness. It’s brutal. I think it is on its last legs but my head feels like a balloon today, full of rivers of mucus. Gross. Love this post. Happy holidays.

    • Oh, Lisa, I’m sorry you’re sick, too. And you’re a singer! I hope you feel better soon. Tonight I feel pretty much headache-free for the first time in recent memory! (JINX!)

      Happy holidays to you and yours, too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s