Whipped Pear and Parsnip Side Dish (better than pie)

DSC03006This side dish was discovered while my friend Bethany and I were making a new pie recipe at Thanksgiving.  It was a pear parsnip pie from The Nantucket Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase.  The pie was good.  It was a more delicate cousin of a pumpkin pie.  But Bethany and I both agreed that just the pears sautéed in butter and calvados and pureed with boiled parsnips was amazing.  It was hard to carry on from there and add all the custard and sugar that made this delicious stuff into an okay pie.    This side dish is way better than pie.  After Thanksgiving, I made more of the pear parsnip whip as a side dish for Turkey leftovers.  Then I made more as a side dish for pork chops and braised cabbage with fruit and fennel seed.  It is very easy and the unique creamy, sweet flavour of the parsnip really shines.  The parsnip is such a humble and underrated vegetable.  I buy my pears unripe a few days before I want to use them and keep them ont he counter  in a sealed brown bag with a ripe banana.  The banana talks to the pears and they are usually perfectly ripe in about 3 days.
If you do not have Calvados, any brandy would be fine.  I used an apple brandy from California called Germain-Robin which is well worth the ridiculous sum I spent on it.  They can’t call it Calvados because of all of the rules that the French have about terroir and naming but I assure you that this apple brandy is better than the “real” Calvados I have bought in the past.
  • 5 cups peeled, sliced parsnips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large ripe Anjou or Bartlet pears, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons Calvados
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the parsnips in a saucepan with enough water to covet them.  Bring them to a boil and then cook uncovered over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the parsnips are very tender.  Drain the parsnips and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, saute the pears in butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the calvados and continue cooking, stirring often for another 10 minutes or until the pears are very soft.  Be careful not to brown them too much.
  3. Combine the parsnips, pears and any juices from the saute pan in a food processor and whip until very smooth.  Season with a tiny bit of salt and pepper and serve.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Johnnie Moore says:

    Hey There Big Sis –

    I have made this with potatoes (usually Yukon) for Thanksgiving for the past 20 years. 1/3 pears (Anjou is BEST!), 1/3 potatoes, 1/3 parsnips – I call it 3 p Puree. My family goes crazy for it. Love seeing this recipe because I bet the result is even more special without the potatoes.

    Love your recipes…

    Thank you!


    1. Hey Johnnie!

      I will have to try it with potatoes. I love those Thanksgiving dishes that stand the test of time.


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