It’s no secret that parsnips are the carrot’s less attractive cousin.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed a grocery store cashier hold a crinkly produce bag of these pale veggies up to their nose and glare at me with raised eyebrows and a tilted head.
But if you ask me, parsnips are underrated.
I wish I could remember the first time I tasted a parsnip puree more distinctly. All I know is that after that silky mouthful melted onto my tongue, it became clear that mashed potatoes would no longer be number one in the side dish category for me.
Once I started getting serious about playing with parsnips at home (wow, I need to get a life), I found that the flavor infusions that I could use were practically infinite. This humble, colorless root veg quickly became one of my favorite ingredients.
Around this time, my catering company Fanfare (yes, that is my nickname plus a synonym for food, and also a word that means parade or ballyhoo) was taking off and I was snagging gigs left and right. It didn’t hurt that I had just won Rachael Ray’s national cookbook competition and my face was plastered all around my little coastal town.
Private chef dinners turned into meal prep for families, which led to film set catering, which led to hilarious stories like the time I stayed up all night making sixty English muffin breakfast sandwiches all impeccably smeared with homemade fig jam.
I’ve learned some shortcuts since then.
My parsnip purees in particular got standing ovations, even from the youthful critics who weren’t handling the bill. Packed with more nutrients, and slightly less carbs, than a potato, parsnips flawlessly transformed into a familiar creamy side that kids loved.
I whisked them into something wonderful with smooth, tangy goat cheese and homemade stock. I mingled them magically with sharp parmesan, freshly cracked black pepper, and half-and-half.
But my shining moment came when I decided to dump a leftover can of coconut milk onto the cooked parsnips that were already in the food processor. I hesitantly hit pulse, and wondered if I had just made a mistake.
The resulting flavor was tropical, and the light-as-air puree had a nuttiness to it that I hadn’t been able to achieve with dairy-based milk or cream. I perused my fridge for more inspiration, and noticed a surplus of cooked beets from the night before.
The roasted beets with rosemary not only revamped the typically white mixture into a puree that proudly boasted a bright crimson hue, but they enhanced the already earthy notes, and the woody herbs added another level of depth and character.
I knew I was onto something.
With the belief in mind that coconut milk, ginger, and garlic are an epic trio, I made the excellent choice to add them in.
But first, a butter bath… which is also what I prefer to partake in before my morning coffee.
This method not only infused the butter with the aromatics, but it brought both the garlic and ginger to the land of golden-brown where they become lightly cooked. They could have gone in raw, but this softened their flavor.
This parsnip, beet, and coconut milk concoction is now a staple when I want to wow guests of any kind, from paying clients to hungry parents. And I know your guests, parsnip newbies and die-hard fans alike, will love it too.Print
Need a stunning side that’s sure to be the talk of the table? Try this velvety parsnip and beet puree with coconut milk, rosemary, and ginger.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 4 large cloves garlic, tips sliced off
- 1-inch-thick round of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed but intact
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks of the same thickness
- 2 small red beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 6 ounces)
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (plus more for serving, if desired)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Melt the butter in a medium skillet or saucepot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic cloves and ginger and cook, turning every few minutes, until they are golden-brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and ginger and set aside to cool. Reserve the melted butter.
- Once cooled, remove the skins from the garlic by pushing the cloves out of the sliced tips. Mash the cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife.
- In a large pot, cover the parsnips, beets, and rosemary sprigs with cold salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and then simmer until the root vegetables are very tender and a knife slides through their centers, about 15-20 minutes.
- Reserve the colorful starchy cooking water, and transfer the beets and parsnips to a food processor. Remove and discard the rosemary sprigs.
- Add the salt, pepper, roasted garlic and ginger, coconut milk, and honey, and pulse until the veggies are broken down. Pulsing as you pour, add a few tablespoons at a time of the reserved cooking water until the puree is velvety and whipped.
- With the motor still running, stream in the reserved melted butter. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Divide the puree among plates, garnish with a swirl of coconut milk if you like, and serve.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Side Dishes
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keywords: puree, parsnip, beet, coconut milk, rosemary, honey
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Toast the Ginger and Garlic
Slice the tips off of the garlic cloves and peel off any excess papery skin.
Using a paring knife or a spoon, peel the skin from the ginger, and then use the flat side of a chef’s knife to gently smash it.
To keep this dish vegan, you can opt to swap in olive or coconut oil for the butter.
In a medium skillet or saucepot over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
Add the garlic cloves and ginger and cook, turning every few minutes, until they are golden-brown on all sides. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes. It’s okay if the ginger separates a bit and the butter becomes slightly golden.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and ginger and set them aside to cool. Reserve the melted butter.
Once they’ve cooled enough to handle, remove the skins from the garlic by pushing the cloves out of the sliced tips. They should pop right out. Mash the cloves with the flat side of your chef’s knife.
Step 2 – Prep the Parsnips and Beets
Trim the ends, and peel and parsnips and beets. Chop the root vegetables into one-inch chunks. Since the parsnips are thin at one end and thick at the other, just make sure the chunks are about the same thickness so they cook evenly.
If you purchased your beets with the greens on or picked them from the garden, you can reserve the leaves either for garnish or to use in yummy recipes like this one for sauteed garlicky beet greens.
In a large pot, cover the parsnips, beets, and rosemary sprigs with cold salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and then simmer until the parsnips and beets are very tender and a knife slides right through their centers. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove and discard the sprigs of rosemary. Reserve the colorful starchy cooking water and transfer the beets and parsnips to a food processor.
Step 3 – Puree Ingredients in the Food Processor
Add the salt, pepper, roasted garlic and ginger, coconut milk, and honey to the food processor. Pulse until the veggies are broken down.
To keep things vegan, maple or agave syrup may be used in place of the honey.
Pulsing as you pour, add a few tablespoons at a time of the reserved cooking water until the puree is velvety and whipped. I used about half a cup.
With the motor still running, stream in the reserved melted butter. Adding it in at the very end finishes the dish with a rich touch of flavor and a smooth texture.
Step 4 – Season and Serve
Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if you need to. Divide the puree among plates, garnish with a swirl of coconut milk or small reserved beet leaves if desired, and serve.
Just Beet It
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if boiled parsnips met beets, rosemary, and coconut milk in a food processor, this recipe will give you all the answers to that unusual riddle.
The stunning color speaks for itself, but it’s the complex flavor that will convince even the most stubborn of root vegetable skeptics that parsnips (and beets!) should always be kept in the produce drawer.
Creamy, starchy sides of all kinds always have a place on my table. If you feel the same way, these recipes will be right up your alley:
- Garlic Parsley Mashed Potatoes
- Pumpkin Kamut with Pecorino and Hazelnuts
- Butternut Squash Pancetta Mac and Cheese
How will you perk up your homemade root veggie puree? Share your clever culinary wisdom in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”