I don’t know what it is about parsnips, but I find their distinctive taste addictive. They’re similar to potatoes, but they have a much more interesting flavor, with a sharpness that potatoes lack. They’re perfect when you want the creaminess of potatoes but something a little more exciting and less bland.
My aunt and uncle, who are amazing gardeners, dropped off a bundle of these homely looking roots the other day, and I whipped up this dish one afternoon, which we all enjoyed very much. The parsnips and potatoes combined with the savory, creamy sauce, set off by the toasty topping of garlicky bread crumbs. A healthy makeover on a classic comfort food dish. I served it with lentils and a green salad, but this would be a lovely accompaniment for a traditional Easter Dinner or any holiday meal.
I’d like to play with the combination of vegetables in this dish, too. I think it would be great with some carrots, which would add sweetness to counter the slightly bitter undertones of the parsnips. You could, of course, make it with all parsnips or all potatoes. I’d also like to try adding some rutabaga, which is one of my favorite root vegetables, and turnips might be interesting, too.
This recipe makes great bread crumbs for the topping.
Special Diets & Allergies: Dairy free and vegan if you use non-dairy milk and omit the Parmesan cheese; vegetarian; nut free; soy free. This could easily be made without wheat flour if you use cornstarch instead. Just take some of the hot milk from the skillet and whisk in 2 T of cornstarch, then add it back to the pan and stir until thick. Obviously, you’d also have to omit the bread crumbs or use gluten-free bread to make them.
This healthy do-over of scalloped potatoes is even tastier than the original. It’s creamy and savory, with crunchy bread crumbs on top. The parsnips add an interesting element and depth of flavor, but you could certainly use all potatoes if preferred. If you have a mandolin, use that to slice the vegetables; otherwise, just cut them as thinly as possible. To make your own whole wheat bread crumbs, buzz up some crusty, artisan bread in a blender or food processor. One-and-a-half thick slices should yield the amount you need for this recipe (about 1 C). This dish is lovely served warm, but you can also let it sit until room temperature and then serve, which will make it possible to dish it up in neat slices that hold together.
1/2 yellow onion, minced
2 T olive oil
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
2 medium parsnips
3 -4 medium red potatoes
1 C whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease an 8″ pie pan.
- Peel and thinly slice the potatoes and parsnips.
- Combine the flour, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sautee for about 5 minutes, or until translucent.
- Add the flour mixture and stir quickly, until the flour is all mixed with the oil.
- Slowly add the milk, quickly whisking to remove any lumps. Cook, stirring constantly, until the milk mixture thickens and bubbles.
- Pour the hot milk mixture over the parsnips and potatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
- Mix together the bread crumbs, garlic powder, and salt.
- Remove the foil, sprinkle on the bread crumb mixture, and bake another 20 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling up around the vegetables, the parsnips and potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, and the bread crumbs are brown. If using the Parmesan cheese, sprinkle it over the top and leave in the oven another 3-5 minutes, until the cheese melts.