Harissa-Spiked Parsnip Puree / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

Parsnips are a root vegetable, related to both carrots and parsley.  They are shaped much like carrots, sometimes much larger, and usually a bit wider at the base (aren’t we all), with a creamy yellow-beige skin and interior.

Parsnips can be used in the same ways as carrots, though their flavor is notably sweeter, especially when cooked. They are a classic ingredient in some chicken broths and soups, and can also be baked, sauteed, steamed, mashed or pureed, roasted, used in stews and fried, like most root vegetables.

Parsnip Puree Recipe / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

And for the most part, you do want to cook this vegetable.  They don’t have much flavor when raw, and the texture can be pretty dense and even woody.  Slice them very thin if using raw…in thinking about it I bet they would be nice pickled.  I may never know, but I’m thinking this.

They should be smooth, hard and free of soft spots or sprouts, and are best when harvested young so they don’t develop a woody core.

Mashed Parsnips / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

Parsnips have a lot going on nutritionally: They are filled with vitamins, high in the minerals potassium and manganese, and a good source of fiber.  Refrigerate them, unwashed, in a plastic bag up to 10 days. Parsnips should be scrubbed with a brush under running water or peeled before eating.

Healthy Mashed Parsnips / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

This puree is a nice change of pace from other vegetable purees, or mashed potatoes. Harissa is a hot sauce made from chili peppers, paprika, and olive oil and is used in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine.  I love it.  I recently got a jar of green harissa, and I can wait to see what that flavor will be like, and also to see the color green it will turn this puree and other dishes.

Harissa-Spiked Parsnip Puree and Rutabaga and Parsnip Puree / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

Other Mashed Side Dish Recipes:

Harissa-Spiked Parsnip Puree

A little bit of heat, a nice earthy flavor, a pretty alternative to mashed potatoes.
Yield: 4 People
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 6 medium parsnips peeled
  • 3 cups less-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Harissa or to taste


  • Cut the parsnips into slices. Combine them with the broth in a pot, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 30 minutes until the parsnips are very tender. Allow the vegetables and broth to cool slightly.
  • Puree the parsnips and the remaining broth (there should be about 2 cups left) in a food processor or blender. Add the sour cream and harissa and process again until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 243kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 801mg | Potassium: 926mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 115mg | Iron: 1mg

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