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Parsnips & turnips with ginger

Parsnips and turnips both are underutilized vegetables, especially in the United States outside of New England. The bitter turnip and sweet, almost gingery parsnip marry well, however, and this simple dish of mashed and spiced Yankee roots not only tastes fine in its own right but also doubles as a palate refresher with all of those rich and hearty Thanksgiving stalwarts; another accompaniment to turkey that you can make ahead of time and then microwave for a crowd. Eight servings that may be doubled or otherwise increased.

ginger.jpg-1 lb parsnips, peeled, cored if necessary (see the notes) and cut into chunks
-1 lb yellow turnips, peeled and cut into chunks
-3 or 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 Tablespoon minced ginger (see the notes)
-about ½ cup chopped scallions ½ cup milk
-salt and white pepper

  1. Cook the parsnip and turnip chunks in salted water until soft; drain them well.
  2. Mash the cooked vegetables, run them through a food mill or pulverize them in a food processor.
  3. Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy pot big enough to hold the vegetables, add the ginger with the scallions and stir them for a minute or so.
  4. Dump the mashed vegetables into the pot with the milk, reduce the heat to low and cook until the food is hot; be alert to the possibility of scorching.
  5. Season the food generously with salt and pepper and, as they said back in the day, serve it up hot.


- Bigger parsnips have a woody core that is decidedly unpalatable so throw it away instead of striving for false economy. You will know it if you see it; it really does look like wood grain.

- Grating ginger can be tough on the hands depending on the tool at your disposal, so do not bother; buy minced ginger in a jar instead. Unlike jarred garlic, which manages simultaneously to taste too assertive, bitter and bland, the ginger is a good product. Not all jarred gingers, however, are equal. The organic stuff from ‘the ginger people’ is good; so is their bottled ginger juice.