02 Jan 2011 06:11 pm
1 lb parsnips (about 2 medium-sized)
2 to 3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup cream
¼ cup minced onion
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
4 cups cubed Italian or French bread, slightly dried
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup macaroni
1 cup whole wheat macaroni
¼ cup additional cream if needed
2 cups (about 1/2 to 3/4 lb) grated cheese (Fontina, Jarlsberg or Cheddar)
salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Place a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.
Wash and peel the parsnips and cut them into sticks about three inches long and 1/2-inch square. Peel the garlic and smash it gently with the edge of a kitchen knife. Place the parsnips and garlic into a large, heavy-bottomed roasting pan, add the olive oil along with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Place into the pre-heated oven and roast until parsnip pieces can be easily poked with a fork, approximately 40 minutes. Allow to cool. Place parsnips and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 6 or 7 times until finely chopped. With food processor running, pour in cream and allow to run, occasionally scraping down the sides of the processor bowl, until a smooth puree has formed, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape puree into a large mixing bowl.
Cook the macaroni in the boiling water until slightly al-dente, a minute or so less than package instructions call for (cook white and whole-wheat pasta together, taking care to add one variety to the boiling water earlier if package directions call for a longer cooking time). Drain and add to the mixing bowl with the parsnips.
In a saucepan or skillet, heat one tablespoon of the butter until melted. Add the minced onion and cook over medium-low heat until onions are beginning to caramelize, approximately 10 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the flour and stir or whisk until toasted, about five minutes longer. Pour in the milk and whisk until smooth, then continue to stir or whisk until thickened, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and thyme along with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool slightly, then add to the mixing bowl with the parsnip puree.
Stir puree, sauce and macaroni until thoroughly combined. If mixture seems dry rather than creamy, add additional ¼ cup cream. Add two-thirds of the grated cheese and stir to combine thoroughly. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Place bread cubes into the bowl of the food processor and process into fine crumbs. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet until melted, and add breadcrumbs. Stir over medium-low heat until bread is toasted, approximately 10 minutes.
Generously butter a thirteen-inch casserole or baking dish. Add macaroni mixture and spread evenly over the pan. Top with remaining grated cheese, then with toasted bread crumbs. Bake in a 350˚ oven until bubbly, approximately 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.