Potato straws are one of my very favorite things in life. Mostly crispy with a tiny bit of softness on the inside. Plus lots of sea salt, yes.
And while I am most definitely in the potatoes-are-paleo camp, I enjoy keeping my carb intake on the lower level for most days. Parsnips make a great potato sub and I do a baked french fry variation with them occasionally.
I was craving potato straws recently for a sous vide bunless I was having for dinner and gave the parsnip variation a go. Aside from all the slicing required (which can be therapeutic or annoying, depending on your chosen perspective), they are very simple.
Take them up a notch by frying your rosemary — an amazing compliment to many meals — and grinding it up with lemon and coarse sea salt.
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Parsnip Straws with Rosemary Lemon Salt
Yields: 4 servings
2 lbs. parsnips
4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest
2 tbsp. coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Peel the parsnips and slice them into very thin matchstick shapes (note: you can shorten this process by running them through a thicker setting on a mandoline and then slicing from there).
About halfway through slicing the parsnips, add the lard to a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet and place over medium heat. The goal is 325-350F for frying, if you are using a thermometer. Otherwise you know the oil is ready when the surface shimmers or when you add a drop of water and it splatters(use caution with this).
When the oil is ready, add the rosemary and fry until it no longer pops, about 60 seconds (note: a splatter screen comes in very handy for this method of frying). Remove the rosemary to paper towels to drain the excess grease.
Once cool enough to touch, pull the rosemary leaves off the stems (they should be crispy and brittle). Add the leaves to a mortar & pestle or spice grinder, along with the lemon zest, coarse sea salt, and black pepper. Grind until uniformly combined.
Fry the parsnips in bunches. You can add a considerable amount to the pan at one time, just keep an eye on the temperature of the fat. Once they turn a dark golden color, remove them to a cooling rack set over paper towels briefly to drain excess grease. After about 3 minutes, toss them in a large bowl with a generous pinch of the rosemary lemon salt. Serve immediately (they have a pretty short shelf life).