Parsnip Mashed Potatoes

Who would’ve thunk it? Parsnips were the star of the buffet!  I was making two juicy main dishes (the French Honey-Baked Chicken was one of them) and I needed something starchy to hold the juices. I originally planned on wild rice, but it wasn’t exactly right, so I made these parsnip mashed potatoes.  They were kind of an afterthought – I figured they would be okay, and that most people wouldn’t really eat much of them.  So I didn’t even make a double recipe.  Hah!! Who would have known there were that many avid parsnip lovers? Before the end of the dinner the bowl was scraped clean!  Oh no – my mother’s nightmare.  I ran out of a dish instead of having leftovers.

Parsnips are a rather humble root vegetable which, to be honest, I’d only tossed into soup or veggie curry before.  The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a relative of the carrot, and resembles it in shape, although parsnips are tan in color. It originated in the Mediterranean region and originally was the size of a baby carrot when full grown. When the Roman Empire expanded north through Europe the Romans brought the parsnip with them. They found that the parsnip grew bigger the further north they went. In Roman times, parsnips were believed to be an aphrodisiac – hmmm, does this explain their rapid disappearance from the buffet?  Parsnips are high in potassium and, if they have experienced a frost, have a mildly sweet flavor.


When purchasing parsnips, choose the smallest ones you can find.  Large parsnips tend to be tough, although they work out well enough if cooked for a long time in a soup or stew.  If, when you cut them up, they have a large core, I recommend that for this dish you cut it out.  I was picking parsnip cores out of the mashed potatoes for quite a while.  A version of this recipe appeared in Sunset magazine.

Parsnip Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds each of parsnips and Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Fat free chicken or vegetable broth

Put parsnips and potatoes in a medium pot. Add enough broth to cover by one inch.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce heat, simmering 8-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove vegetables from pan and drain, reserving broth. Place vegetables in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Beat on low speed, gradually adding about ½ cup of the hot reserved broth until the vegetables are smooth and are the consistency that you want them to be.  This makes 12 servings at about 2.4 grams of fat/serving

Parsnip Mashed Potatoes

See, they’re not very glamorous.

You can make these ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container for a day. Reheat in the microwave, stirring occasionally.

Variation: Instead of adding the reserved broth, heat fat free half and half and add it gradually as you mix the vegetables.


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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