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GOOD COOKING

Winter Whites

February 29, 1996|ABBY MANDEL

When you walk into the grocery store, the first thing to catch your eye is the vibrant color: red and green bell peppers; orange carrots; yellow lemons.

But this winter, I've been working with the subtle whites of the produce bin--parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama--to cook up different vegetable combinations. All are low in fat and work well with roasted or grilled meats, poultry and fish.

These winter whites share some characteristics: They are all appealingly sweet and have a delicate flavor. But they require additional flavors to bring out their taste and a bit of added color to enhance their presentation.

MASHED PARSNIPS AND BROCCOLI

In this recipe, the parsnips naturally sweeten up the broccoli; they make an excellent pairing.

4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt

1 large head broccoli, stem peeled and florets and stem cut into 1-inch chunks

1 tablespoon light sour cream

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook parsnips in 1 quart rapidly boiling, lightly salted water until half-tender but still slightly crunchy, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli. Boil until vegetables are quite tender, about 5 minutes more.

Drain vegetables and puree in food processor. Add sour cream, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste and pulse to mix well. Can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Gently reheat in microwave oven on medium power (50%) or on stove top until hot. Adjust seasoning.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

46 calories; 493 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 7 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 1.44 grams fiber.

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES WITH LEEKS, PARMESAN CHEESE AND CRACKED PEPPER

This method is one of the best ways to balance the subtle nuttiness and crunchy sweetness of Jerusalem artichokes.

1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, cut into 1/4-inch crosswise slices (about 3 1/2 cups)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt

1 small leek (including light green part), thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Cook Jerusalem artichokes with lemon juice in 1 quart rapidly boiling, lightly salted water until slices are half-tender but still slightly crunchy, about 5 minutes (less if peeled). Add leek. Cook 20 seconds.

Drain vegetables and transfer to shallow bowl. Sprinkle with cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Toss until well mixed. Drizzle with oil. Toss well again.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

141 calories; 241 mg sodium; 4 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 1.30 grams fiber.

SAN ANTONIO PEAS AND CARROTS WITH JICAMA

Jicama lends a refreshing crispness to this vegetable mixture. Serve it hot with simply grilled meats, chicken or fish. Adding a small amount of oil or butter in the final step makes the vegetables taste surprisingly rich.

1 jalapeno, minced

10 baby carrots, cut into thin crosswise slices (about 2/3 cup)

2/3 cup water

1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby peas

1 jicama, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice (about 2 cups)

2 small green onions, thinly sliced

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or butter

Simmer jalapeno, carrots and water in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until carrots just become tender, about 5 minutes. Add peas, jicama, green onions, cumin and salt. Stir well. Continue cooking until vegetables are hot, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in oil.

Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

119 calories; 548 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 17 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 2.28 grams fiber.

* Dinnerware from Barney's New York in Beverly Hills.

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