Parsnip Gratin

Parsnip Gratin

If a parsnip could talk, it would speak words of wisdom and read Robert Frost poems. It would teach you about the past so that you could understand the present and you’d silently absorb everything the little root had to say. Don’t be surprised if parsnip smokes a pipe and wears loafers as parsnips enjoy simple comforts. Personifying the parsnip may be new to you but given its calm, oaky, knowing voice, you’ll beckon parsnip to continue its intoxicating fables.

Parsnip gratin is a confident, sophisticated dish with warm, earthy, herby flavor and an un-expecting ease. It does its own thing. Parsnips have a naturally nutty, somewhat cinnamon flavor, which is not for everyone as it is certainly different from the neutral potato. Out of a successful pinning session, I found a recipe for Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme from Feasting at Home. I was instantly intrigued and was excited to finally make it, although I did make some modifications to the recipe.

Parsnip Gratin

I used aged white cheddar cheese instead of gruyere only because gruyere skipped townthe day I went to the grocery store. As opposed to using heavy cream, I blended up steamed cauliflower (cauliflower’s the new black in case you haven’t noticed) with 2% milk and an egg for extra nutrients and less fat. While I am absolutely sure heavy cream would be delicious in the parsnip gratin, I did not feel as though it was the dish was lacking it.

This dish encourages you to slow down and slip into the fuzziest socks you own and enjoy the process of connecting with real ingredients. It is happy to join you while the sun descends and won’t get bent out of shape if you share a bottle of wine and light hearted chatter with it over some calm tunes. If you have not tried parsnips before, I would recommend starting with a simpler and less time intensive recipe before taking the plunge. If you’re a seasoned root eater, you’re welcome!

Parsnip Gratin

Parsnip Gratin

Author: Julia


  • 2-1/2 pounds parsnips peeled and very thinly sliced (1/8” thin or thinner)
  • 1 large yellow onion sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cups head cauliflower 2-1/2 cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 egg
  • 7 ounces aged white cheddar shredded, or gruyere or other good quality cheese
  • ½ tablespoon butter for greasing a casserole dish


  1. Steam half a head of cauliflower until soft when poked with a fork (about 10 minutes).
  2. Peel the parsnips and slice them thinly using a mandolin slicer or simply slice them very thinly (and carefully)with a knife.
  3. Over medium heat, sauté the sliced onion in a couple teaspoons of oil just until fragrant and beginning to turn translucent, about 7 minutes.
  4. Combine the cauliflower, milk, flour, salt, nutmeg and thyme in a blender. Blend until combined
  5. Crack the egg into the cauliflower/milk mixture and blend just enough to combine (this should make just over 3 cups worth of mixture).
  6. Grate the cheese.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  8. In a well buttered 9” x 13” casserole dish, lay down slices of parsnip, completely covering the bottom (it’s okay to overlap slices). Layer a third of the onion on top and sprinkle some cheese. Repeat this so that you have four layers (with only a parsnip layer on top).
  9. Pour the cauliflower/milk mixture evenly over the layers then sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  10. Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the casserole dish from the oven, discard the foil.
  11. Put the casserole dish back in the oven (uncovered) and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the dish to sit 10 minutes so before you serve.

Recipe Notes

Original recipe from Feasting at Home:

Thank you to everyone who participated in my Bob’s Red Mill Giveaway for Almond Flour! I used a random number generator to select the winner, and she has been notified through email!  Come back on Friday (1/31) for ANOTHER Bob’s Red Mill giveaway!!

Parsnip Gratin


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  1. Jordyn

    This is gorgeous and it looks delicious! I love that your gratin isn’t too liquidy- many of the scalloped potatoes and gratins I grew up with at holiday time were literally drowned in heavy cream. This looks light and refreshing- it’s on the “to cook” list.

  2. Meghan

    Cauliflower is most definitely the new black. I’m not totally opposed though; it’s less pretentious than kale. 🙂 I love your heavy cream substitute! That’s so genius.

    I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and assume those aren’t your arms slicing the parsnip?

    1. Julia Post author

      Hahahaha! As much as I would love to claim the hairy manly arms as my own, they are indeed my boyfriend’s. I gave him the task of slicing the parsnips because our mandolin could use a little sharpening so it takes a little muscle to get the job done 😉 Glad you like the recipe!

  3. Abby

    whoa whoa…we have to stop and appreciate those man arms doing WORK with that mandoline! 😀 love that. I have a confession, parsnips and I aren’t friends…we kind of awkwardly wave hi and keep walking briskly down the hall. That said, this recipe makes me want to invite them over for dinner and forgive and forget.

  4. Shirley

    Wonderful pictures. I really appreciate the healthier additions to the recipe. We have to make this one tonight. I will send you the picture, but I guarantee the photo won’t be as nice as these.

  5. Erin @ The Speckled Palate

    I’m sad to say I have never tried parsnip before… but based on your description above, it sounds like it might be just up my alley and something I could totally get into, especially with this gratin. Should I come across it in the grocery store or farmer’s market, you’d better believe I’m giving it a shot now!

  6. Joyti

    LOL @ cauliflower being the new black. Brussel sprouts are the new black in my kitchen…several days a week, seriously…
    The gratin looks and sounds delicious.

    1. Julia Post author

      Brussels are another great one! Very delicious and healthy habit to have! I made cauliflower soup tonight…looks like the cauliflower addiction is really sticking! 🙂

  7. Stephie @ EYHO

    WHOA. You did NOT find a way to swap out the cream in a gratin! Ugh you’re so brilliant, I just love it. Almost as much as I love a good gratin. Maybe more. Ok, at least equal. 😉

  8. Caren Johnson

    I highly suggest cutting the milk portion in half. The dish was delicious but, it was swimming in sauce and my family thought it was to runny.

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