Parsnips for dessert? Yes. When blasted in a high-heat oven, with caramelized edges and creamy centers, this carrot-like root vegetable is naturally sweet. While side dishes counter this with savory ingredients, like garlic or cheese, we’re leaning into it with sugar and sour cream.
The sour cream does double duty here—as a swooshed foundation for the roasted vegetables and the tangy base of a two-ingredient caramel sauce. For the latter, be sure to use room-temperature sour cream, which melts more effortlessly into the bubbling caramel.
And if you’re caramel-shy, don’t worry. Just check out the video below: I’ll walk you through every step. Once you know it, you’ll know it forever. It’s a speedy, simple way to upgrade anything from ice cream to toast to, yeah, roasted vegetables. —Emma Laperruque
Set the 1/4 cup of sour cream on a counter to come to room temperature. (Leave the 1/3 cup of sour cream in the fridge.) Heat the oven to 450°F.
Cut the parsnips into wedges, about 3- to 4-inches in length, roughly the same thickness. Add to a sheet pan (no need to line). Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss with your hands.
Roast the parsnips for 20 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until they’re tender inside and caramelized outside.
While those are in the oven, make the caramel sauce: Add the sugar to a small saucepan with 3 tablespoons of water. Set over medium heat. Cook, not stirring at all, until the sugar starts to turn amber around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. At this point you can gently swirl the saucepan until the sugar is deep amber all over. Turn off the heat and carefully add the room-temperature sour cream—it’ll hiss and sputter a bit. Add a pinch of salt and stir until smooth. Take off the heat, but leave in the pan to keep warm.
When the parsnips are done, you can assemble the dessert one of two ways: First, swoosh the 1/3 cup of sour cream on a platter. Scatter the parsnips on top. Drizzle all over with the warm caramel and top with a pinch of salt if you’d like (flaky if you’ve got it). Alternatively, you can divide the sour cream, parsnips, and caramel between 4 plates, finishing each with a few flakes of salt.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.