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What Is Parsnip Purée?
Parsnip purée is a dish prepared by blending cooked parsnips with milk or cream, salt, and butter until it reaches a smooth consistency. If you’ve guessed that parsnips are related to carrots, you are correct! Parsnips are part of the plant family Apiaceae, which contain carrots, parsley, celery, dill, and fennel. This cream-colored root vegetable is left in the ground to mature, becoming sweeter in flavor after winter frosts.
Parsnip purée is usually served as a side dish to accompany meat or vegetables. It's naturally gluten free and makes a great alternative to classic mashed potatoes. It tends to combine heavy cream and butter for a luxurious texture that pairs well with seared scallops or steak, while a light vegan version might swap out the cream and butter entirely for vegetable stock. Try Chef Thomas Keller’s easy recipe below for this delicious side dish.
6 Tips for Making Perfect Parsnip Purée
The ideal parsnip mash is pale, smooth, and creamy. It should be thick enough to hold its shape when tested with a spoon.
- Buying Parsnips. Parsnips have a knobby, root-covered exterior that can be peeled away, revealing a pale-colored interior. When buying parsnips, look for straight, small smooth-skinned roots. Avoid parsnips that are shriveled or have splits and brown spots on them.
- Prep Ahead. If you’re planning to cut down on prep time, peel and dice a few pounds of parsnips ahead of time. Place parsnips in a container of cold water, keeping them submerged and covered in the refrigerator to prevent them from browning. They can be stored up to a day in advance.
- Fork-tender Vegetables. Make sure that your parsnips are cooked until fork tender in a medium saucepan to make a smoother purée.
- Liquid Ratio. Make sure to cover parsnips with enough liquid (whole milk, heavy cream, nut milk, or stock) to blend. If the parsnips are still chunky, add liquid by the tablespoon and blend until desired texture is achieved.
- Equipment. The best equipment to blend purée with is a blender, immersion blender, or food processor.
- Leftovers for soup. With leftover purée, try adding a few splashes of chicken or vegetable stock for a flavorful soup the next day.
Variations on Parsnip Purée
- Potato and Parsnip Purée. For a heartier purée, next time try swapping out half of the parsnips with potatoes in your recipe. This version is closer to classic mashed potatoes with added sweetness from parsnips.
- Carrot and Parsnip Purée. For a sweeter, kid-friendly side dish, try combining carrots into your parsnip purée. Carrots can replace half of the parsnips in your recipe. This colorful sweet side dish will have the fussiest eaters asking for seconds.
- Cauliflower and Parsnip Purée. For a healthy spin, try combining steamed cauliflower with your parsnips. Steaming works better than boiling for cauliflower because it helps to preserve its flavor. Cauliflower blends easily with parsnips to create a silky, light finish.
- Roasted Garlic and Parsnip Purée. For a flavor kick, try adding a few cloves of roasted garlic to your parsnip purée. To roast garlic: Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut ½-inch slice off the top of the whole head of garlic to expose the cloves. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Wrap in foil and roast cut-side-up in the oven for 35-40 minutes until tender. Add 4 to 5 softened garlic cloves to the parsnip mixture and blend.
Roasting vs. Boiling Parsnips for Parsnip Purée
There are a few differences between using roasted or boiled parsnips for a purée. Roasting will give parsnips some crisp edges that will make for a more rustic purée, while boiling will create a silkier, smoother texture to the dish. The flavor of roasted parsnips will be slightly nuttier and sweet from the caramelization of its natural sugar. When using roasted parsnips for purée, the color will become more golden versus pale white.
How to Roast Parsnips for Parsnip Purée
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place ½-inch diced parsnips on a baking sheet and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly golden and fork-tender. Follow the rest of the recipe below; combining the roasted parsnips with the cream and butter in a blender, adding more water as necessary. Finish with salt and ground pepper.
Chef Thomas Keller’s Parsnip Purée Recipe
- 150 grams parsnips, peeled, ½-inch dice
- 15 grams unsalted butter
- 250 grams cream
- 120 grams water (additional may be needed)
- Kosher salt to taste
- Chef’s knife
- Paring knife
- 3-quart saucepot
- Rubber spatula
- Blender with a 1-quart canister Serving bowl
- Place the parsnips, cream, and water into the sauce pot. You may need to add additional water to cover the parsnips. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook the parsnips until they have no resistance when tested with a paring knife.
- Transfer the parsnips and thickened liquid to a blender. Begin blending on low speed and gradually increase the speed. With the blender running, add the butter and season conservatively with salt. Process until the purée is extremely smooth. Stop the blender and check the seasoning, adjusting with salt if necessary. Check the consistency and adjust with additional water if necessary to your preference.
Learn more cooking techniques with Chef Thomas Keller here.