I am so very excited to share this with you, because it contains two of my favorite foods: cheese and roasted veggies. Even those who have known me even for a short while know I am obsessed with cheese in most of its forms; and the bulk of my dinners usually consist of roasted veggies. So this dinner is very, very me.
I picked up these parsnips late one night after work. The grocery store was nice and quiet, and I could carefully browse the produce without being in anyone’s way. These were just calling to me, under the soft hiss of the auto-misting. And since I am a cheddar lover (understatement), I knew just to pick up next.
The roasted parsnips turn into a full-bodied nutty cream, wonderful enough to spoon all on its own, and I kind of wished I’d purchased more of them so I could eat them plain. Next time.
I also wish I’d gotten more pears! I didn’t get too many because they can be hit or miss. You can get a great pear, and then you have the dry, hard ones . Those are so disappointing, don’t you think? But every single one was perfect. You broil them to get the juices going, and they get nice and soft and sweet. If you let them sit for a bit before serving, they get even softer and sweeter. They are a perfect complement to the ample creaminess of the parsnips and cheese. A few toasty onions get tossed on top simply for spirit’s sake. I’m used to eating mac-n-cheese with hot sauce on top, which I did not think would go well here at all. So onions.
Incidentally, if you have any leftovers (and I did, because there are only two of us and this has a generous yield), blend up the cheese sauce with some kale and spread it on toast. Crunch crunch.
Parsnip n’ Pears Mac n’ Cheese
- 2 large parsnips
- 8 oz sharp white cheddar
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 scant tbsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp celery seed
- a dash of pepper
- salt to taste
- 2 -3 Bartlett pears
- a little bit of brown sugar
- 1/2 large red onion
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 4-6 servings of pasta (I used gf, it works just fine)
- a small handful of nuts or seeds, for crunch
- Preheat the oven to 450
- Peel the parsnips and slice them into coins. Lay them on a parchment-covered baking sheet and brush lightly with 1 tbsp olive oil
- Roast for 20-22 minutes, until nice and golden.
- Place the parsnips in a pot and use an immersion blender to purree them. They will be super lumpy.
- Place the pot over low heat and add the liquids (the milk and the water), one cup at a time, continuing to blend as you go. The mixture will become smoother.
- Add the cheese in. Just break it up into chucks and toss in. No shredding involved, the blender will do that for you 🙂
- Keep on blending until the cheese is fully melted and incorporated
- Add the thyme, celery seed, and pepper
- Bring the heat to medium, stirring continually, until mixture is hot.
- Allow to cool a bit and then add the salt to taste.
- Turn on the broiler. Slice up the pears and sprinkle brown sugar on both sides. Broil them for 2-3 minutes on one side, and 1 minute on the other side. Remove from heat.
- Prepare the pasta according to package directions
- Slice up the onion. Put the remaining olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and allow to warm till shimmering.
- Add the onions and let them sit for a little bit, and then start stirring gently. Keep cooking for about 5-8 minutes, until nice and toasty looking but still crisp. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
- Spoon the sauce over the pasta, and add the onions and pears over top of that. Add a sprinkle of nuts or seeds over the top, for a bit of crunch. Enjoy.