Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Families have their unique dishes that are a must each year, like Mom’s green-bean casserole, Aunt Bunny’s creamed onions, or Uncle Ted’s gelatin mold. These traditions — along with turkey — are part of what make this holiday so great. However, each year I like to try something new. This year I’m experimenting with the often overlooked parsnip. Let’s see how this sweet yet nutritious gem can be a great addition to any Thanksgiving table this year and possibly for years to come.
The parsnip looks like a light creamed-colored carrot and has a soft, sweet and nutty flavor. The later this root vegetable is harvested in the fall, the sweeter it becomes. That’s because the starches are converted to sugar in the ground. So quite surprisingly, at Thanksgiving time the parsnips are amazingly sweet and savory. Though not so common in the standard American diet, parsnips were eaten in ancient Europe and brought to America through Britain. Somehow they lost favor to the much nutritionally inferior potato. Comparatively parsnips are exploding with nutritionally value. Parsnips are a good source of folic acid, potassium, fiber, and vitamins C and K. Often times a rich color is synonymous with flavor. But in the case of the parsnip, when buying them, choose the lighter-colored ones. Also, small to medium sized selections tend to have a richer taste that the larger sizes. Make sure they are firm to touch. Firmness is indicative of freshness. Parsnips lend themselves nicely to a puree and a perfect quick and easy way to add variety to Thanksgiving menu this year. Here’s a simple 10-step recipe to get you started.
10-Step Power-Packed Parsnip Puree
- Peel and chop one pound of parsnips.
- Peel and thinly slice four cloves garlic.
- Saute garlic in about 4 ounces of extra virgin olive oil (hint—don’t overcook your garlic as it will become bitter).
- Once the garlic starts to brown, add in the chopped parsnips along with just enough chicken stock to cover it all.
- Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Cover and cook until parsnips are fork-tender (about 20 minutes).
- Remove from heat, add 1 cup of heavy cream, and again bring to a simmer.
- Remove from heat, and using a hand blender, puree until very smooth.
- Plate and serve.
TELL US: How do you like to cook parsnips?