Mashed potatoes is the ultimate holiday comfort side-dish, but if you are on a health journey and avoiding nightshades, what to do? One easy option is to use a sweet potato instead, and some even use cauliflower, but there is something about parsnips and chestnuts that I like, other that they are lectin-free. They are both fragrant and earthy, much more that a potato or cauliflower.
A lectin-free ‘mash’ replacement for your Thanksgiving dinner
And unlike other plants that are available all year round, you only get chestnuts in the fall / winter, more like for few weeks. So better take advantage of that. Chestnuts have always been a favorite food, and couldn’t wait for the first batch of the season. In my family we mostly ate them boiled, and that’s how I like to prepare them. So when I found fresh chestnuts (that looked good) in the supermarket, I had to buy some and decided to re-make an alternative to mash potato that I previously served during holidays. The problem with chestnuts is that sometimes they are not good, you cook them and out of one maybe only 4, 5 are good. (When buying, choose chestnuts that are hard and seem full). An alternative is to buy them already cooked and peeled, but they are usually pretty expensive. This is the brand I used when I didn’t find fresh chestnuts.
As per the parsnips they are always available in supermarkets, and are fairly inexpensive. And in between the parsnip and the chestnuts, we get a great nutritional value from this dish, compared with a white potato. Chestnuts are rich in fiber, vitamin C, folates, mono-unsaturated fatty acids and minerals. Parsnips is a resistant starch, rich in folates, potassium and vitamin C, and low in sugar (despite its sweet taste). Apparently, before the widespread use of sugar, in Europe parsnip was used as a sweetener.
This quantities make a small portion (for two or even four if serving small portions), so double or triple if you need more.
Parsnip and Chestnuts Puree with Chives
A great lectin-free replacement for the traditional mashed potato side dish.
- 1 big parsnip, peeled and cubed
- about 7 chestnuts, boiled
- about 1 tbsp butter
- few tsp of non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened hemp milk) or heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: 1 clove garlic, fresh thyme (I didn't use any, chives have a little bit of garlicky flavor)
- handful of chopped fresh chives
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Boil the chestnuts first, they'll take about 30 to 40 minutes. You can take one out and taste to check if they are done. Slice them in half and scoop out the white flesh. Meanwhile boil the cubed parsnip, drain when ready (it will take about 10-15 minutes max). Mix the boiled parsnip, the chestnuts and butter (and finely chopped garlic if using) in a food processor, until creamy. Add a little bit of non-dairy milk or heavy cream, especially if the texture seems too dry. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can add to a serving bowl, top with chives and butter and eat. Alternatively, you can prepare it in advance, and at this point you can put the puree in a glass container (without chives) and store in the fridge. When it's time to serve, just add the puree to an oven proof dish and warm in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. Take out and add fresh chopped chives and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil / butter.
The reason I didn't add garlic is because I love the chestnut and parsnip flavor and I didn't want the garlic to be overpowering. But if you are a garlic fan, go ahead and add.