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A Healthy Twist on an Old Favorite: Parsnip Mac and Cheese Recipe

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A Healthy Twist on an Old Favorite: Parsnip Mac and Cheese Recipe
It can be tough to come up with great, fresh family meals in the wintertime. With their dull exterior and homely looks, storage vegetables like turnips or parsnips don’t necessarily lend themselves to dinner inspiration. But you may want to give some of these humble veggies a second look, since they can bring unexpected flavor and a bit of nutrition to your wintertime table. At our house, we’re big fans of adding seasonal vegetables to hearty family favorites like mac and cheese. Cold weather always has me craving rich, satisfying meals, and this sweet and savory homemade mac and cheese recipe with parsnips fits the bill perfectly!

A Healthy Twist on an Old Favorite: Parsnip Mac and Cheese Recipe

So cozy up to winter vegetables and head below for step-by-step instructions and the recipe for deliciously hearty parsnip mac and cheese!

  • Prepare the Parsnips 1 of 12
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    Peel and trim the parsnips, and then chop them.

  • Bake the Parsnips 2 of 12
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    Cover your parsnips with foil and bake until soft.

  • Grate the Cheese 3 of 12
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    Select a robust, sharp cheddar for optimal flavor.

  • Drain the Pasta 4 of 12
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    Cook the pasta to al dente and then drain.

  • Prepare the Roux 5 of 12
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    You'll need butter, flour, and milk. For best results, use room temperature milk to prevent the roux from seizing.

  • Make the Roux 6 of 12
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    Whisk the flour into the melted butter.

  • Add the Milk 7 of 12
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    Add the milk very slowly, making sure to whisk it into the roux completely before adding more.

  • Add the Parsnips and Cheese 8 of 12
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    Stir the mashed parsnips and grated cheese into the roux.

  • Fold in the Pasta 9 of 12
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    Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce.

  • Ready for the Oven 10 of 12
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    Spoon cheesy pasta into a baking dish, and then slide into the oven.

  • Prepare the Panko Asiago Topping 11 of 12
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    While the mac is baking, prepare a mixture of panko, Asiago, and butter for the top.

  • Ready to Eat! 12 of 12
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    Once the parsnip mac and cheese has cooled a bit, serve it up!

Parsnip Mac and Cheese

serves twelve

You can make the parsnip mash ahead of time. Store mash, sealed in the refrigerator, for up to three days.

3 large parsnips, trimmed and peeled
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 pound macaroni or cavatappi
12 tablespoons butter, divided, plus more for buttering the baking dish
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, room temperature
3 cups grated sharp cheddar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Chop parsnips into 1/2 inch chunks. Set in an oven-proof baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until parsnips are soft enough to be mashed with a fork. Set aside to cool, and then use a fork to mash parsnips (no need to worry about smoothness). You should have about 1 cup of parsnip mash.

Continue to heat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a deep 9 x 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons sea salt and the pasta. Cook to al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the same large stock pot over medium heat. Add 10 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Whisk in flour. Mixture will be very thick. Next, drizzle in milk slowly, whisking continuously to combine. Once milk has been added, add prepared parsnip mash, and then stir milk mixture over medium heat until thick and creamy, about three minutes. Off the heat, and stir in grated cheddar and the cooked pasta.

Spoon cheesy pasta out into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with pepper. Slide into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine panko, Asiago, and 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl. Use your fingers to mix butter into the breadcrumbs and cheese.

After 30 minutes, remove baking dish from oven, sprinkle with panko mixture, and slide back into oven to bake for 15 minutes longer. Mac and cheese will be bubbling and lightly browned on top.

Cool for 10 minutes, slices, and serve.

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