Why Mash Potato When You Can Parsnip

Parsnips kind of look like pale carrots. But I think they’re better. Naturally you don’t have to believe my bias, and it’s not like I have it out for carrots. Carrots are cool too, but not as buttery and yummily (nope, not a real word) as the parsnip. As a root vegetable, parsnips are great to roast and I often use them in soups too. But it being super close to Christmas and all, you should also know that the parsnip likes to be mashed. It won’t mash as smoothly as a potato does but I like my mashed products lumpy so it’s a non-issue for me…

Mashed Parsnips with Caramelized Leeks
–2 medium-large parsnips, washed and peeled like you would a carrot, chopped into chunks
–4 TBSP butter, divided
–1 shallot, diced
–2 cloves garlic, minced
–1 leek, chopped into 1/4″ thick circles*
–heavy cream
–pinch of salt
–fresh cracked black pepper

*remember with leeks you only use the stalk, not the leaves

Place the parsnips in a large pot. Cover with cold water and then bring to a boil. Allow to cook for 20-25 minutes or until parsnips can be easily mashed with a fork.
While the parsnips boil, melt 2 TBSP of the butter in a medium skillet. Sauté shallot and garlic for one minute before adding the leek circles. Cook, stirring to keep the mixture from sticking, until the mixture is carmelized and beautifully browned. Remove from heat.

Drain the parsnips, leaving about 1/4 cup of hot water in the pot (you’ll have to eyeball it, so just leave yourself enough hot water to start the mashing but not enough hot water that it looks like your parsnips could drown). Using a potato masher or large heavy fork, begin mashing the parsnips. Parsnips are stringier the older and larger they get so if you see some strings don’t fret. Add the remaining 2 TBSP butter and 1/4 of the cream. Continue mashing.¬† Add the leek mixture. Add more cream if needed, remembering that unlike you, this will never be smooth.

Dammit Jim, I’m not a doctor…
Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4 as a side
Calories: 260 per serving

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  1. So Rachel Cain
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I am going to a no dairy, gluten, sugar, or meat holiday dinner this weekend. Do you think this recipe would be good with coconut milk instead of the heavy cream? Do parsnips play well with coconuts?

    • leah
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure about coconut milk. Hmmm. You can skip the cream all together if you just get the parsnips soft enough to mash well. My concern would be if they were older (and starchier) veggies. But I don’t see why you couldn’t sub the cream for rice milk and the butter for Earth Balance (vegan butter), so long as there isn’t anyone with a soy allergy (I think vegan butter is soy based). Let me check with my vegan source and I’ll let you know her thoughts (or recipe ideas!)

      • leah
        Posted December 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Ok! Here’s the word: “Coconut milk is fine, but it’ll leave a pretty heavy coconut flavor…which might be good? I would probably use unflavored almond milk. Personally, i think rice milk is too watery for most things.”

        So, there’s your answer!

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