a little bit different

I know quite a few people who don’t like change. I understand. Change is hard.

Change is all we have, however.

Let me make this clear: I love mashed potatoes more than the average person. I love the buttery whipped softness against the lips. In fact, I have such a devotion to mashed potatoes that I once fooled my five-year-old brother into thinking I had handed him a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. Instead, I had given him mashed potatoes. That didn’t go so well. How did I think that was going to work? (And I’m still sorry, Andy.)

That may have been too abrupt a change.

A little change is good. A slight shift. Maybe serving mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving that taste a little bit different?

If you’re in the mood for layers of flavors besides just potatoes? We think you’ll like this parsnip-celery root puree.

This dish is from our cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. We’re working hard on our next cookbook, making several new meals a day, even this week before the big holiday. It’s easy for us to put all our focus on the new work. However, every time I open up our first cookbook, I see something that makes me proud. Even more than that, it make me want to move into the kitchen and start cooking.

We hope you might want to take another look at it too.

So make a change. A small change. Add some parsnips and celery root to your mashed potatoes. You might be surprised with the happiness you make.


PARSNIP-CELERY ROOT PUREE, , from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes

Danny made this again a few weeks ago, on Sunday with a house full of friends. I needed a photograph for this post, in case you might want to make this for Thanksgiving. After I had found the light and snapped a few, we put this bowl down in front of our friends, along with a few spoons. That puree was gone in three minutes. 

We used cream in the original recipe but Danny made this batch with milk. It turned out beautifully so feel free to choose whichever works best for you. 

The puree has a small vegetal sweetness, a honeyed mellow richness, and a slight peppery taste from the celery root. (Think of celery — there’s a tiny unexpected bite in there.) Mostly, it’s smooth potato puree with a new complexity. The same old thing can get boring after awhile. Liven things up a bit. 

3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
5 tablespoons salt
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream (or 1 cup milk, if you prefer)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Boiling the potatoes. Place the potatoes and 3 tablespoons of the salt into a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.

Cooking the parsnips and celery root. Simultaneously, bring another large pot of water with the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Throw in the parsnips and celery root and cook until they are fork-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the parsnips and celery root and put them in a food processor. Whirl until the puree is smooth. You might have to add a bit of water or a smidge of cream to allow the vegetables to puree fully.

Making the puree. Push the tender potatoes through a fine-mesh sieve with the back of a ramekin or a large wooden spoon. (If you own a ricer, use it here.) Combine the potatoes with the parsnip and celery root puree.

Finishing the puree. Bring the cream to a boil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir the butter into the puree, then the hot cream. (You might not need all of the cream.) Taste the puree, then season with salt and pepper.

35 comments on “a little bit different

  1. Tina

    Hahaha…. I HATE CHANGE!!! But, it’s just so good for me sometimes:) I’ve learned to think of change less of a disruption of my orderly routine and more of a whisper something amazing to come. And it really is… how would we know what it was like to fly, or to bounce around in zero gravity, or just what amazing thing you can get out of parsnips and celery if we didn’t change up our live a little?

    We would all probably still be doing what I’m doing- eating mashed potatoes in the same way I have for eighteen years.

  2. Wendy

    That sounds absolutely amazing! Thanks for the tip.
    Here is one for you. Chipotle, bacon and fried onions. this was found at our local gorumet/health food store and I just had to try my hand at it. Spicy every other bite. Bacon and fried onions thrown in. Fresh garlic for good measure. Awsomness. Now I can’t wait to try your version. A little sweeter perhaps, due to the parsnips? drooling as I type….

  3. Sophie

    Delicious! Thanks for this recipe. You’re site is becoming my go-to resource for thanksgiving (in addition to all the hours I spend perusing the beautiful photos and lovely words, just for fun).

    A mashed potato tip from my sweet father: just before serving, add some scallions and celery leaves. It adds fantastic aroma and texture to the final dish.

  4. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    Ii like to switch things up for holiday dishes but there does seem to be an expecdtation for some old favorites that makes that difficult. When I introduced mashed potatoes with lemon, garlic and chives a few years back I heard a cacophony of sighs, complaints and boohoos. Until they tasted them. Now…let’s just say that’s one dish I better not change. This year I’m moving on to sweet potatoes.

    1. shauna

      I understand. My family really does not want any change to the feast. I can understand this. I’m probably making this for our Friends’ Thanksgiving we are having on Saturday!

  5. Lynn Pawluk

    !!!I’m afraid – but, I’m going to give this a try. After all…variety is the spice of life, yes? Just love you, Shauna – keep inspiring me, please. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving – you and Dan and that adorable Lu.

  6. Heather

    These sound great! How did I miss this recipe in your first cookbook? Am going now to pull it off the shelf! I’m mixing it up a bit on Thanksgiving too, doing scalloped potatoes instead of mashed. I decided this year that anything I can make the day before and just pop in the oven after the turkey comes out, that’s what we’re having. My family doesn’t usually complain, since they’re just happy somebody’s cooking for them 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving Aherns, and all who comment there! I’m grateful for this little community.

  7. Jillian@TheHumbleGourmet

    Yum! I love a good variation on a classic like mashed potatoes.

    I, too, however, hate change. I always end up happier after change has happened, but the course of change, the actual change happening, is really hard for me to process.

  8. Angela

    Hi Shauna and Danny – this looks delicious and must try except for one thing? Is this a cross cultural thing? Seems like the salt quantity is huge. I would use one teaspoon of salt in potatoes. The next size up would be a desert spoon (twice as big as a teaspoon) and then next a table spoon (twice as big as a desertspoon). Did you really use 3 tablespoons? 12 teaspoons? Sorry, I’m in the UK.

    1. shauna

      The salt is for the water. If you salt the water enough to taste like the ocean, your potatoes will be perfectly seasoned.

  9. AmandaonMaui

    I love the flavor or parsnips. They’re so fresh tasting. It’s almost like a not-mint but minty freshness thing going on. I bet this tastes awesome. I’ll save it for after the holidays. Everyone is pretty set on what they get. I tried to go for the organic local purple sweet potatoes, but I was shut down on that idea. Gotta have that orange color. Oh well. Happy Holidays to your family!

    1. Mainecelt

      This dish makes perfect sense to my Scottish-American palate–it’s an update/variation on the traditional side dish served with haggis: Neeps and Tatties! (Traditionally, it’d be potatoes and turnips/rutabagas, but I usually make it with parsnips instead of turnips because I love parsnips “sae muckle!” [so much!])
      This was my first year to grow celeriac/celery root successfully, so I look forward to trying this treat out soon. It sounds “unco guid!”

  10. Wylie Dashwood

    Wow, that makes my mouth water! I’m currently collecting sides for Christmas dinner (Thanksgiving has long passed in Canada!), and this looks like a unique take on a classic.

    Have been doing the gluten-free diet for about 18 months, and I am still learning some of the intricacies of baking. I’ve been cataloging my efforts on my blog. It’s not an easy change, but I do enjoy the challenge!


  11. gluten free gift

    Shauna – is there any reason you couldn’t cook the vegetables with the potatoes (throwing them in towards the end as the potatoes take longer) and put it ALL in the food processor? I’m all about shortcuts (providing the don’t mess too much with the end product).

    1. Juliette

      I thought that putting potatoes in a food processor made them come out like sticky dough; I tried with a hand blender and the result was horrible.

      1. shauna

        Oh a blender wouldn’t work at all. But with a food processor, you can pulse, with a light touch. And it does work.

  12. Brie

    I confess I’m mystified by the “Thanksgiving must always be the same way” people. We always change something! I’m making potato gnocchi (gluten free, of course!) with browned sage butter for Thanksgiving. That’s the new one this year. But I could see your mashed potatoes for Christmas…I usually wait until Friday to start planning that meal. 😉

  13. Mary T. Salmon

    Wow! I am going to give this a try for Thanksgiving! It does sound yummy. Do you think Almond milk would work also?

    I hope I am entering your contest to win a cookbook!

    Thanks so much,

  14. Amy @ Chef Basket

    Always hard to accept change. I know i find it hard to step out of my comfort zone. But that is such a great recipe for mashed potatoes. I’d have to add garlic to it for my own liking though. Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. Avril Smith

    As much as I love mashed potato and celery root, the best part of this post is “hearing” you talk about your daughter. You write so beautifully that my heart swells up just reading it. I’m gluten free, and step mother to a gluten free little boy. I love him stupid amounts, but still can’t wait to have someone call me “mama”. Hopefully soon!

  16. Valeria

    In the need for a change last week I tried to serve turnip and pear pure to my American, mashed-potato-lover boyfriend. It didn’t go so well. I ended up eating the whole thing. So, when I tried to propose him some other kind of mash for Thanksgiving, he gave that “don’t start with this fooblogger thing” look. Mashed potatoes are untouchable. We can change many things, but not his favorite food for his favorite holiday. I will have to wait for another occasion, or just make it for myself only…I know myself enough to know I would love it.

  17. Tammy Bathgate

    I made this wonderful dish for our Thanksgiving meal with a few changes.
    I left out the celery root simply because I didn’t have it and didn’t want to fight in the store.
    I left the potato skins on and substituted almond milk for the heavy cream. Dairy allergy.
    I also steamed the vegetables rather than boil them. My preference.
    The skins and almond milk made them a bit grayer in color but still very delicious.
    Thank you for the great idea!

  18. Anna Simon

    This looks like a great recipe! I absolutely love parsnip; from roasted to mashed. My daughter has celiac (so do I) and she also has to stay away from potatoes. Not easy! So I’ve been looking for substitutes and have made anything from sweet potato mash to cauliflower purée, which was delicious! For Thanksgiving, I made parsnip and carrot mash with leeks. It turned out great! But have not used turnip together with pasrnip. Now, I must try your recipe!!! I know my daughter will love it.


  19. Gwen

    That image of your brother eating the faux vanilla ice cream just made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing your stories with us:)

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