Vegan Caesar Salad with Fried Parsnip Chips

Better than bacon

If you’ve never had fried parsnip chips before, this is your chance to discover a new great snack! It’s… better than bacon. Not that I’m such a big fan of bacon, nor does bacon even go in caesar salad, but bacon has a lot of fans, and this is a flavor that tickles the same taste buds. It’s crunchy, sweet, smoky, and packs a whole lot more nutrition. Turns out it goes swimmingly with crisp romaine and a zesty dressing, in lieu of the more traditional anchovy.



Romaine lettuce
1 qt. frying oil
1 Lemon
Olive oil
Black pepper
Sea salt
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. molasses
1/2 tsp. tamarind extract
Pinch cayenne

To make the parsnip chips:

Shave the parsnip into paper thin slices using a vegetable peeler or a mandoline. If you have very good knife skills, you can put those to good use here. I prefer amorphous shapes as opposed to ordinary round slices. If you use a vegetable peeler you will have an interesting assortment of shapes, all paper thin, which will make for a perfect, crunchy chip. A mandoline will yield more consistent shapes, not quite as thin. And a knife… well, it all depends on your high score in Fruit Ninja.

In a deep frier or a medium-sized, heavy pot, pour about a quart of your favorite frying oil. I like to use safflower, sunflower, or peanut oil, but any oil suitable for high-heat will do (do not use extra virgin olive oil as it will smoke).

Bring the oil to a temperature between 350 and 375º F (180 to 190ºC). Frying oil is temperamental, and the trick is to fry in small batches so that the fresh stuff you’re frying doesn’t cause the temperature of the oil to drop too much. A thermometer is useful here, or you can test a piece of parsnip and see if it sizzles and browns in about a minute (the 60 second test). If your chips are thick, this will take a bit more time, and they are also likely to bubble with air pockets. This is where the hard work of shaving the parsnip into very thin slices pays off.

Set each freshly fried batch of parsnip chips onto a plate with absorbent paper. I use newspaper (does anyone buy an actual newspaper anymore?) or reuse brown paper bags from the grocery store, and paper towels will also do the job. Immediately sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and continue until you’ve fried all the parsnips.

The dressing

In a mason jar, combine the juice of one lemon, one clove of garlic, minced, some black pepper, 1/2 tsp. each of sea salt, molasses, and tamarind extract, and a pinch of cayenne.

Using an immersion blender, start blending the mixture while slowly adding  the olive oil (some experts say drop by drop). If you don’t have an immersion blender or if you are lazy, you can also add the olive oil and shake the mason jar vigorously. This works pretty well, but the first method works better.

Putting it all together

If you’ve followed me until this point, you’ve made fried parsnip chips (was this your first time?), you’ve emulsified a delicious dressing, and now it’s time to put it all together. Take your washed romaine, toss it in the dressing and place it in a salad bowl. Top it off with the parsnip chips. Enjoy!

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