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.