Monday, November 11, 2013

Creamy Whipped Parsnips

Something I always look forward to during Autumn is the amazing selection of tubers/root vegetables to roast, mash, and make into soup.  From rutabagas, turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, sunchokes, to parsnips, I love them all.  Ideal for warming the body from the inside out, they epitomize comfort food for me as the days grow progressively shorter and the refreshing crispness in the air begins to transition to a more pointed chill.

Now, when it comes to the Holidays, when one person says, "mashed," someone else is bound to say, "potatoes."  Well, unless that someone else would happen to be me.  While I have nothing against mashed potatoes, and actually have a reputation that precedes me for making some truly mean mashers [cue mean pirate growl], I find that potatoes just don't make me feel that great.  To be honest, most nightshades don't make me feel that great.  I get sleepy and sluggish, and fighting the urge to take a nap while I'm eating just isn't cool.  I want to be completely present when I'm eating, especially when I am blessed with the company of loved ones.  

So every November, I make a point of mashing, smashing, or whipping a different vegetable.  And this year, the lucky vegetable is the wonderful parsnip.  Related to carrots and parsley, it looks like a larger, yellowish-white carrot with a warm, hearty sweetness reminiscent of roasted chestnuts.  Once I tasted them mashed, I was instantly smitten.  Paired beautifully with coconut milk, the sweetness satisfies, but does not cloy, and the creaminess hits the spot without knocking you down for the count.  

One taste and you'll see why this recipe defies the title of "side dish."  
[cue sound of spot light being turned on]

Whipped Parsnips
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time:  5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time:  none
Cooking Time:  10-15 minutes
Yield:  about 6 cups

2 lbs parsnips, chopped
cold filtered water, to boil

up to 1 c warmed unsweetened coconut milk beverage
2-3 tablespoons vegan butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

What you'll need:  Large saucepan, colander, vegetable scrubbing brush, chef knife, cutting board, food processor

1.  Rinse parsnips, give them a good scrub, and then rinse again.  I don't find it necessary to peel them, especially if you are using organic.  Keeping the skin also allows you to hold onto a majority of the vitamins (particularly Vitamin C & K) and fiber.
2.  Chop into roughly one inch sized wheels, making cuts a little larger as you head towards the tapered portion of the parsnip.  Transfer to saucepan and cover with cold water by at least two inches.  Turn to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. (*starting with cold, unsalted water helps to ensure a creamy, smooth texture.)
3.  Boil for five to ten minutes, or until just fork tender.  The color of the parsnips will change from white to a light yellow.  Strain and transfer to food processor.
4.  In the same saucepan, combine coconut milk beverage, vegan butter, and seasoning.  I just use the residual heat to melt the butter, warm the milk, and bring the mixture together.
5.  Run the food processor until the parsnips have broken down to a rough puree.  Slowly pour the warm milk mixture through the food chute until you reach a smooth, whipped consistency.  Err on less whipped, as running it too long may overwork the starch in the parsnips to create a gummy consistency, which while still delicious, will be less desirable.

Scrubbed, washed, and ready to chop.

Cold water bath.

Whip it real good.

Creamy, fluffy, deliciousness.

These are so good, better than any mashed potatoes that I have tasted, or even made myself.  I love the balance of flavors: sweet, savory, creamy, light.  It could easily stand on its own or be the ultimate wing person for fried turkey, cranberry sauce, green beans, or whatever else you'd like to pile onto your plate.  And maybe it's just me, but parsnips seem to be a lot less fussy than potatoes - really straightforward and simple from prep to plate.

I hope you enjoy this delicious departure from mashed potatoes and have the opportunity to share it with friends, family, and loved ones.   Particularly for vegans and those avoiding gluten, nightshade, refined sugar, or dairy, this dish ticks all the boxes, and knowing that you thought of them can truly make the Holidays special and memorable.

Please stay tuned for more Holiday recipes coming soon!

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