Every Thanksgiving, my mother makes buttered, pureed cauliflower, in place of the traditional mashed potatoes. Though I love this dish - and always pray there are leftovers - the one thing it definitely lacks is crunch. So, I added breadcrumbs to this puree, flavoring them with sage and nutty brown butter. —Cara Eisenpress
fresh sage leaves
breadcrumbs, preferably freshly made from stale bread
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter two individual ramekins. Then, peel and trim the parsnips. Cut them into large chunks.
Bring an inch or two of water to the boil in a large pot. Arrange the parsnips in a steamer basket in the pot, cover, then steam 6-8 minutes, until they're easily pierced by a sharp knife. Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over very low heat. Stir occasionally as the butter starts to separate int clear and opaque parts, and continue cooking until fragrant and slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the sage, cook for a minute or two, then add the breadcrumbs. Fry another few minutes until the breadcrumbs are coated with butter and crispy. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Combine the cooked parsnips, milk, cream, remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Process until mostly smooth. Taste for salt, and give the mixture a few grinds of pepper if you'd like.
Divide the puree between the two ramekins (you can also use one larger dish if you prefer). Sprinkle half the breadcrumbs over each.
Bake 10-12 minutes, until the breadcrumbs have browned and the puree is warmed through.
I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com), a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.