If you’ve never eaten a parsnip, you’re not alone. They’re probably the least celebrated of the winter vegetables, and yet they’re definitely one of the most flavorsome. Parsnips have all the sweetness of a carrot, the creamy starchiness of a squash, and the strange nuttiness of a chestnut. We like the way they smell too: fresh and herby, like parsley.
Like most everything, parsnips taste terrific drenched in heavy cream and cheese, so this rich spin on the classic au gratin is the perfect get-to-know-you recipe. In fact, the test kitchen thinks the slices of parsnip hold up better under the ooey-gooey topping than a potato: they’re soft without being mushy or grainy, and their earthy flavors shine through the nutty Gruyère, nutmeg, and garlic. The parsnip is more than a vehicle!
If you’re responsible for a side dish this Thanksgiving, bring this gratin — it’ll shake things up a bit. And it’s such a pleasing dish, you’ll want to take it with you into the winter months. It’ll pair beautifully with roasted meats, like a garlic-crusted rack of lamb.
Tip: You can make this dish ahead and reheat it just before serving. We’d take it out of the refrigerator a couple of hours before you want to serve it so that it can come up to room temperature.
Butter, for greasing pan
2 ½ lb parsnips, cut crosswise into ⅛-inch thick slices
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz Gruyère cheese, grated, divided
1 Tbsp Gelson’s organic thyme leaves, divided, plus more for garnish
2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg, plus more for the top
¼ tsp white pepper
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large cloves garlic, minced
Preheat the oven to 400º and set a rack in the middle of the oven.
Generously grease a baking dish measuring 9 x 13 inches with butter.
Layer the parsnip and onion slices with ⅔ of the Gruyère cheese and ⅔ of the thyme, reserving the more perfect pieces of parsnip for the final top layer. Press down and make sure the layers are even. Place the last layer of parsnip slices in overlapping rows.
In a small saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream over medium heat. Whisk in the salt, nutmeg, remaining thyme, white pepper, flour, and garlic, and bring it to a bare simmer, about 5 minutes.
Pour the whipping cream mixture over the layered parsnips, slanting the baking dish to get the cream in all the nooks and crannies.
Sprinkle the remaining Gruyère cheese, a few more sprigs of thyme, and nutmeg over the top.
Cover the baking dish with a lid or foil and bake until the parsnips are fork tender, 50 to 60 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake the mixture until the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes more.
Transfer the gratin to a hot pad, and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving so it can set up and thicken.
Recipe adapted from: Feasting at Home