Sweet Cinnamon Date and Roasted Parsnip Spread Recipe

March 10, 2013

A few years ago I attended a cooking show with the Voltaggio brothers back in Lexington. They did several interesting creations during that show, but one that has stuck in my mind since was a roasted parsnip and date spread for toast. 
Confession:  I don’t love dates or parsnips. I can handle dates in moderation and the less sweet variety. Parsnips are a little too earthy for me, but I can handle them roasted with other root vegetables. 
So why did this combination stay in my head for 2 years? You got me. I have no idea.
I think maybe it is because I’m always looking for something that is low in added sugar that can fulfill my crazy sweet tooth. 
At the Farmers Market on Friday, I happened to come across both parsnips and dates, and I was reminded of that combination once again. I bit the bullet and bought both to see if I would even like this intriguing creation. 
I’m thankful to California that I now have several varieties of dates to choose from. Back in Kentucky it was usually Medjool dates or the diced kind coated in sugar that are sold during the holidays. And I’m thankful to the vendor who had them all labeled – sweet, less sweet, more sweet, etc. I like it simple.
I picked up a variety that she had labeled, Caddy Candy. Although now I’m wondering if my memory serves me right because I can’t find that name associated with dates anywhere. But for what it’s worth, these are less sweet. 
So I roasted up the parsnips, just like they did in the show, and then blended them with dates in the food processor. I wanted a little more flavor so I added a little cinnamon, some vanilla and a little olive oil to help with consistency. 
This is such a great combination! Even for someone who doesn’t like dates and parsnips. It’s a naturally sweet spread perfect for sourdough toast. I can see it working with oatmeal, pancakes and waffles, too.

Sweet Cinnamon Date and Roasted Parsnip Spread

2 medium parsnips, peeled and cubed (about 1 to 1 ½ cups)
Pinch of sea salt
8 to 10 medium-sized whole, pitted dates
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 to 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread the parsnip cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Spray or drizzle with just a little of the olive oil. Add just enough to lightly coat them and keep them from sticking. Sprinkle them with the pinch of salt. 
Roast for 20 – 25 minutes, or until they begin to brown and are tender all the way through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Transfer the parsnips to a small food processor. Add the dates. Pulse until a spread begins to form. Add the vanilla and cinnamon. Pulse until smooth (or as smooth as you can get it). Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil as you puree if you want a thinner, more spreadable consistency. Makes about ¾ cup. 

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  • Rebecca Subbiah March 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    so interesting I would try it 🙂

  • Lori March 10, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Rebecca – I’m surprised how much I like it. So glad I gave it a try! 🙂

  • Danielle March 11, 2013 at 8:16 am

    I have to admit I was really close to just skipping over this post because dates and parsnips are just not 2 things that seem like they go together. However, after reading it, you have me totally intrigued and I can’t wait to give it a try! I love dates for the natural sweetness they provide, so I’ve been trying to incorporate them more and more into my baking. I could see this as a filling to a breakfast danish/strudel or another baked good. You’ll have to let me know if you find another use.

  • @yumivore March 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    sounds intriguing, I’d have to try this to convert but there are odder combinations that are simply delicious together – and the photos make we want a bite!

  • Michelle March 12, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Looks wonderful to me! (But I love both dates and parsnips.)

  • Andrea March 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Yes! This sounds delicious!

  • Juliana March 13, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Parsnip and date? You are very creative Lori…and from your description I must admit that started to sound good.
    Hope you are having a fun week 🙂

  • Lori March 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Danielle – Great idea on the filling!

    yumivore – Thanks! It really goes well together.

    Michelle – You’ll love it!

    Andrea – Enjoy! 😉

    Juliana – Well, it wasn’t entirely my idea. 🙂 It does taste good!

  • Marianne (frenchfriestoflaxseeds) April 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Okay, I’m intrigued. I’ll have to give this a go sometime. I can see it pairing with some crisp apple slices and maybe brie for a nice sandwich.