I am baffled by the number of people who tell me they don’t like parsnips. Isn’t it true, that once we make up our mind about something or someone for that matter, it’s nearly impossible to change it?
So it won’t matter if I tell you how soulful they are. How wisely and beautifully designed they are for the coldness of winter with their rough and tumble exterior, housing the most exquisite of flavors- harmonious notes of sweetness, earthiness and depth.
Like my favorite kind of people. 😉
Yet you won’t know this unless you take the time to get to know them and experience their goodness for yourself. One thing I can do is share a parsnip recipe that might possibly convert even the most hardened of parsnip skeptics.
Parsnip Gratin Video
I’ve found, the smell alone, will melt away much of the resistance. To me, the aroma wafting from the oven when this is done, is heavenly.
Normally with recipes, I recommend playing around with them. For this recipe, however, there are few tips that will help ensure a successful outcome.
- Firstly, do not substitute whole milk or half & half for the heavy cream, or the gratin will end up watery.
- Using fresh thyme is essential.
- Using fresh whole nutmeg elevates, but you may substitute ground nutmeg.
- Pecorino or manchego cheese can be subbed for the gruyere.
- Feel free to substitute yukon gold potatoes or peeled russets for half of the parsnips.
- Using a mandolin makes this so much easier to make. If you don’t have a mandolin, slice parsnips as thinly as humanly possible.
- Lastly, it’s imperative to let this sit 15-20 minutes before serving, to ensure it sets up nicely and thickens.
- This can be made ahead, baked ahead and reheated before serving. It’s actually quite good reheated.
How to make Parsnip Gratin
It starts with peeling the parsnips.
Slice them very thinly– a mandoline makes this easy.
Thinly slice an onion. Generously butter a 6×9 baking dish.
Assemeble the Gratin
Begin layering parsnips, onion, gruyere and a little thyme.
It’s OK if this bottom and middle part is a little messy.
Reserve some of the larger more uniform pieces of parsnip for the top and arrange in nice, even, overlapping rows.
Make the Creamy Sauce
Pour cream mixture over the layered parsnips, tilting and shaking the pan so liquid coats all the nooks and crannies.
Top with the remaining gruyere, a sprinkling of thyme and a pinch of nutmeg.
Freshly ground nutmeg is more aromatic than the pre-ground spice. Buy whole nutmeg (often sold in jars in the spice section of supermarkets) and scrape it against the finest holes of a box grater, or use a micro-plane grater. It’s totally OK to use ground nutmeg, but whole will give the dish that extra special flavor.
Bake the Parsnip Gratin
When you get to know parsnips, allowing yourself to see beyond their rough exterior, you’ll discover an unexpected sweetness. It’s quite surprising.
Have you ever met someone, who perhaps, was a little rough around the edges, not someone you envisioned becoming close to, but after spending time with them, you began to understand how they got their rough exterior and could see beyond it, to their unexpected tenderness and sweetness? These are the parsnips of the world. The ones who nourish us in their own special way.
More recipes you may like:
- 2 ¼ –2 ½ lbs Parsnips
- 1 medium onion- yellow or white
- 3 Cups heavy whipping cream ( do not sub half and half or milk)
- butter for greasing pan
- 1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg ( or ground), more for the top
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 T Fresh Thyme
- 1 T Flour or Rice Flour
- 3 large minced cloves garlic
- 6 –8 ounces, grated gruyere cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Peel the Parsnips and using a mandolin, slice parsnips to 1/8 thin slices. The thinner the slices the faster this will bake. If you don’t have a mandolin, slice them as thinly as humanly possible! 😉 Thinly slice the onion and grate the cheese.
- Generously grease a 9 x13 inch baking dish with butter.
- Layer the parsnips and onion with 2/3 of the cheese and ⅔ of the thyme -saving the rest for the top- and reserving the more perfect pieces of parsnips for the final top layer. Press down and make sure layers are even. It’s OK if the inside layers are messy. Place the last layer of parsnip slices in nice looking overlapping rows.
- In a small pot, heat 3 Cups heavy whipping cream. Whisk in salt, nutmeg, the remaining thyme, white pepper, flour and the garlic and when it just comes to a simmer, pour over the layered parsnips, slanting the baking dish to get the cream in all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, a few more leaves of thyme and a little sprinkling of nutmeg. Cover securely with a lid or foil and bake for 50-60 minutes on the middle rack until parsnips are fork tender. Check, Remove foil, pierce with fork, parsnips should be al dente. (If not- your parsnips were perhaps cut thicker that 1/8 of an inch, and you will need to cook longer with the foil on.) Also, don’t worry if it seems watery at this point.
- Once fork tender, remove foil and bake another 15 minutes uncovered , or until golden and bubbly. It is important to let it sit at room temp for 15-20 minutes before serving, so it sets up and thickens.
- You can also make this all ahead, and simply reheat before serving.
You can also substitute half of the parsnips with potatoes.
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