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i made it

Recipe: roasted parsnip purée

I took a much needed break from posting after NaBloWriMo ended. I realize a lot of people are blogging daily for their variant of NaBloWriMo this month. I have absolutely no desire to do that for a second month. Blogging takes a certain amount of time which I permit because I enjoy it. When I posted daily, I not only didn’t enjoy it, I began to loathe it. My two other blogs fell into neglect because of the daily posting. Clearly, it tipped the scales into the “blogging as sucky obligation” camp. I maintain two philosophies with regard to this blog:

1) I blog for myself. (Anyone else who comes along for the ride is welcome as long as they aren’t an asshole about it.)
2) Life comes before the blog.

I’m not sure I’ll be doing it again next year unless I find myself with an enormous amount of free time and… that will never happen.

Jeremy and I drove home from New Mexico on Sunday under sunny skies. We stopped at Trader Joes in Santa Fe, hunted for Mexican food near the border with Colorado, and spotted several dozen antelope on the plains. Sunday was also our “smoochiversary” or our “I’m glad I met you” day. Call it what you will, it has been 17 years. I consider myself fortunate for every day I spend with Jeremy. I could not have asked for a better partner in life. We had lunch in Trinidad, Colorado. I don’t know what it is about that border between the two states, it’s like the border between good spicy food you can taste (NM) and Mexican food that is as bland and flat as a Swedish cracker (CO).

don’t be fooled: looks good, tastes like nothing much

Tami and Helen were wondering why I hadn’t been on Twitter much of late. It never fails, but the autumn months seem to be the busiest ones. When I say busy, I mean work, travel, and fun. Last night was muy fun.

you got it: community night at the kitchen

amazingly good: rabbit leg confit with chanterelle mushrooms

We were joined by a familiar crew of friends and had a terrific time full of laughter, stories, plans, and incredible food. As we stood outside of the restaurant, saying our very long good-byes, Luke told me, “I feel so full. About the same as when I had dinner at your place last time!” The difference between dinner last time and dinner at Community Night was that I didn’t have to cook at Community Night and could spend my time with my favorite people. But Luke’s comment made me remember that I still had a recipe to share from the dinner party we threw last month.



How fitting that the first time I fell in love with parsnips was at The Kitchen a few years ago. They were roasted and I had no idea what the actual vegetable looked like. I just knew it was sweet with overtones of warm spice and a hearty root vegetable texture. They look like white carrots with overly enthusiastic proportions. I think they’re beautiful. I like to roast parsnips, I like to purée parsnips, but I’ve never puréed roasted parsnips.

tossing trimmed parsnips with oil, salt, and pepper

roasted until tender and sweet

What I learned the first time I puréed parsnips was that the core is quite fibrous and not pleasant to work with or eat. So I cut the cores out (please be careful doing this) and roasted the pieces in the oven with a light sprinkle of oil, salt, and pepper. It helps to cut the parsnip pieces into similar sizes so you don’t burn the little ones to crisps. Alternatively, you can snarf those lovely crispy pieces down for yourself during prep. The crunchier they are, the harder it is to get them through the food mill or to process them in a food processor. I tried the food processor and wasn’t happy with the consistency, so out came the food mill.

yes, use a food mill

add cream

Once the purée is done, add a little water or cream to lighten the consistency (it’s quite thick). Heat it over a medium flame and continue to stir in cream to your liking. I wanted it to be smooth, but firm enough to hold its shape on the plate without running everywhere. I topped each blob of roasted parsnip purée with a large pan-seared scallop, but you can serve it with whatever you like (filet mignon also a good pair). One other note, a little goes a long way. I thought I wouldn’t have enough purée with 2 pounds for 6 people (because after removing the cores I had just over a pound). In the end, I only used a third of the purée for the plating and it was a generous amount.

plays well with others

Roasted Parsnip Purée
[print recipe]

2 lbs. parsnips
1-2 tbsps olive oil
1 cup cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel, trim, and core the parsnips. This will leave you with about 1 pound of parsnips. Cut the parsnips into uniform pieces (2-inches long). Toss with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place parsnips in a shallow baking dish in a single layer and roast the parsnips for 30-45 minutes (depending on how big the pieces are). Use a spatula or spoon to toss the parsnips every 15 minutes. When the parsnips are soft, remove them from the oven. You can pulse the parsnips in a food processor, adding water or cream (or milk if you want to compromise) to help it along. I found this didn’t get the smooth consistency I was aiming for, so I put my parsnips through a food mill on the smallest setting. Place the purée in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir in enough cream until the desired consistency has been reached. Serve warm as an accompaniment.

27 nibbles at “i made it”

  1. Melissa says:

    Sorry the daily dragged you down. Glad to see you again today though. :)

    Congratulations again to you and Jeremy. I think you are both extremely blessed to have found one another.

  2. Tokyo Terrace says:

    I am with you on the blogging every day thing…I’m not good at it. My posts and photos suffer when I start over doing it. One thing I love about your blog is how high quality every single post is from the photos to the writing to the recipes.

    On that note, your scallop looks incredible- what a great sear! I can see in your photo the contrast of textures with the parsnip puree. Tastyness!

  3. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is says:

    Congrats to you and Jeremy. Blogging does become life I have found…

    This recipe looks delicious. It is something I have never tried. Now I’m antsy to try.

  4. Bridget says:

    I kind of cheated with NaBloPoMo, because I have a month’s worth of photos already processed, and a number of the entries started as well.

    I recently roasted parsnips. It was only the second time I’d cooked with them, and I definitely noticed the tough core, even in the tiny ones I bought. I’ll have to remember to remove it next time.

  5. Chocolate and Toast says:

    Thin line between “love” and “obligation”, isn’t it? It’s one thing to love to do something, another thing entirely to do it because you feel you are obligated to. I for one am glad you love to blog-for yourself-and will eagerly read each post you put out there, daily or not!

  6. Abby says:

    I’ve never done the Nano-thing because I’d never make it through alive. Two posts a week (most of the time) keeps me sane! Still don’t know how you did it PLUS the experiment with money and food a week.

    I’ve also never had parsnips. I never saw my grandmother make them so they must not be that common around this part of N.C. I mean, I know I can *buy* them, but you never find them on menus!

    Also. Congrats to you two!

  7. Mrs Ergül says:

    How very lovely! A food mill works great with veges like this! By the way Jen, how do you get that really crispy outside on the scallop without overcooking the insides?

  8. Susan @ SGCC says:

    I’ve got to hand it to you for making it through the month. If I can make 3 posts/week, I’m happy. I’ve tried forcing it before and it just doesn’t work for me.

    Love the parsnip puree! Parsnips ain’t pretty, but they sure are tasty! :)

  9. :the wynk: » Blog Archive » I am in love… says:

    […] Tags: food …with this blog post about parsnips. […]

  10. Tartelette says:

    Well, we figured you were not on Twitter much because of the family but we did try to lodge you out of hiding last night. The thing is we had no clue you were *this* deep in Persian lemon martinis, good food and good company. Yay! for that :) Much needed break, I am sure.
    I don’t know how much around I’m going to be either but you can be sure I’ll stop by here as much as possible for my weekly dose of good food! That parsnip puree does sound delicious! When I roast any kind of vegetable for purees or soup, you can bet 1/4 is gone before making it to the food mill, but I’ll try to refrain next time…Maybe.

  11. Nicola says:

    I love your blog, but quality over quantity makes for happy author, happy readers. I’ll be here reading, whenever you’ve time and inclination to write. :-) Cheers from Australia.

  12. Rosa says:

    When blogging becomes a chore, then it is not interesting anymore… It is difficult to blog every day, unless one has no life or it is a job in itself. You are right!

    That parsnip purée looks delightful! I love this flavorful root veggy.



  13. Marisa says:

    I’ve not done NaBloWriMo, but I can imagine that it would end up being a royal pain in the butt. Good on you for finishing up though! I don’t think I would’ve lasted that long.

  14. Kristin says:

    Glad you’re back. I think I should love parsnips but have not had them in good preparations. Will have to try roasting. My 15 year old is on her 3rd year of NaNoWriMo. It’s very difficult getting her to do anything that’s not part of her usual schedule in November. Thank goodness for laptops so we can go visit family for Thanksgiving!

  15. Manggy says:

    Life before blog! Always a good philosophy and I worry about those who think otherwise! Ha ha ha. When I’m in San Francisco again I’ll be sure to hit every taco truck in town just to annoy you :)
    Of course, you could serve a pan-seared scallop on a bed of soil and I’d still eat it (okay, maybe I’ll dust it off a bit…), but the roasted parsnip mash looks lovely. Parsnips, unfortunately, never make an appearance here, as it requires frost to grow properly and there’s not enough interest here to import it. I guess it’s something I have to search out when I’m there ;)

  16. Patricia says:

    Congratulations on making the semi finals and on surviving daily blogging. You maintained amazing quality even with quantity and deserve a break and good snow. I am planning a holiday party in the states and thought HAM, which made me think of yo Mama. I realize I could spend ages trying to track down a good supplier or perhaps you could share her source as being your mother I suspect she has already found the best. Also someday I hope to fry a scallop as attractive as yours.

  17. Gabi says:

    I love your philosophy- I’ll have to remember it when I’m feeling guilty about not getting around to posting. The parsnip puree topped with that lovely succulent seared scallop looks divine!

  18. Lori says:

    Yah know what I like when you go into nablowrimo (whatever) mode, – you write things you don’t normally write… like details… that I find interesting. You become more multifaceted- not that you are not already because certainly you seem to be- it’s just I get to see a little more of that. SInce I find you interesting, which is why I keep coming back for more, this drives me to your blog more often.

  19. Ciaochowlinda says:

    Daily blogging is too much of an obligation. I like your two rules. The parsnips tips are much appreciated. I just bought parsnips for the first time and am about to cook them using your ideas. Love that perfectly seared scallop too.

  20. Sara says:

    I’m with Mark on this one, I don’t care what you throw them on, I’d eat scallops with so so much pleasure. Aren’t they amazing?

    I love the idea of roasted parsnip puree though. I’ve made similar purees before with butternut squash and sweet potatoes so I should give parsnip a try. Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure I recall what a parsnip tastes like… Hmm, note to self: pick up some parsnips!

  21. Margie says:

    Parsnips? I have never eaten these beauties, and I’m sure they are beautifes!
    Root vegetables rank high in my food pyramid, especially in the fall months. I think it has something to do with all that nutrition that avails itself when those glorious greens fade from our table scape. These offer up a bounty in their very own powerhouses.

    I love that you would post about the tedium, challenge and the obvious. I’m not so sure others are as willing to stand upon those principles when it comes to taking on a commitment. Too much of the time we bog ourselves down, within the corners of a commitment, to realize, too late, that our responsibility has in its own way, stolen the writ of passion we had so hoped to display in our creative response.

    We must allow ourselves the freedom to change our minds, and while I understand the importance and responsibility of accepting a commitment, I also understand that much can occur to challenge our intent. Recently I lost two very close friends, one suddenly, the other after a heinous battle for life. In reflection of all that they brought to my world, the most important item I carry with me, in their honor, has to do with acceptance: What we are one day, we are not, the next. Accepting the change is what will make, or break, us.

    Kudos to your testament!

  22. Rebecca says:

    I love your two blog philosophies. And the purée looks delicious!!

  23. Sarah Welch says:

    Smoochiversary? Adorable :) Rich and I got married on the anniversary of our first date. It’s my wedding present to him that just keeps on giving–only having to remember one anniversary! We’re going strong after 13 years together and 5 years of wedded bliss. Here’s to many more for you and Jeremy!

    On Mexican food in Colorado, if you ever get to Burlington (near KS border), try Mexican Restaurant #2. Yes, that really is the name of the joint. It’s a restaurant and bakery. The food is delish and cheap. On Sunday, dinners over $5 (I said it was cheap!) come with free sopapillas. The sopapillas are huge, warm pillows of happiness, served with a bottle of honey and squirt bottle of cinnamon and sugar. Oh. My.

  24. Aran says:

    glad you were able to take a little break after the work craziness and all the family events. i love coming here for some honesty and truth jen. parsnips have been on my mind today too!

  25. jenyu says:

    You guys say the nicest things. psst! your $20 will be arriving in the mail anytime now :) Very happy to be off NaBloBlahBlah and hopefully the posts will resume their normal format (whatever normal is – I don’t think anything here is normal, really).

    Bridget – totally lose that core. It makes me cuss.

    Abby – try looking around the markets and see if you can spot them. I’m sure they’re around.

    Mrs. Ergul – you have to have a really hot pan (don’t use nonstick). It sears for a couple of minutes, then when the top starts to look a little opaque and less translucent, flip it over and sear another couple of minutes. It will continue to cook a little when you remove it. The hot pan ensures a nice crisp outer layer.

    Tartelette – yes, I like to sneak some roasted veggies too!

    Manggy – I want you to hit every taco truck in town and blog about it! :)

    Patricia – try contacting the Williamsburg Peanut Shop online. They mail order ham, I believe.

    Margie – very true and very observant. I don’t want the commitments to turn everything into a burden, but since I do feel an obligation, I try to take on these challenges with forethought for how much it may make me hate it in the future :)

  26. Shrink Food: “F” is for Fennel and… « Dresses & Appetizers says:

    […] Roll the fennel stuffing sticks in flour. Fry the fennel stuffing and make tomato sauce, parsnip puree, and split pea puree with crumbled bacon for […]

  27. audra says:

    i LOVE parsnip puree… truly heaven… can always use another approach to whipping it up… thank you!


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