James Beard's Pureed Parsnips


"The Essential New York Times Cookbook" author Amanda Hesser shares this subtly sweet side dish from legendary chef James Beard. The recipe originally appeared in The New York Times in 1992.Also try: Sweet Potato Casserole


  • 3 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces

  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for boiling

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup (1 to 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more unmelted for top

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream

  • ¼ cup Madeira

  • 2 tablespoons coarse dry bread crumbs or finely chopped nuts


  1. Place parsnips in a large saucepan; add enough water to cover. Generously salt water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer; simmer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree parsnips in a food processor or food mill. If using a processor, take care not to overprocess or they will become gluey.

  3. Transfer pureed parsnips to a large bowl; whisk in salt, sugar, melted butter, heavy cream, and Madeira.

  4. Spoon parsnip mixture into a 1-quart baking dish. Dot top with butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs or chopped nuts. Bake 20 to 30 minutes. Serve.

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