Pasta with lemony parsnip pesto (vegan/gf)

This post is brought to you by the letter P…


Do you ever have a vision, but it’s teetering between genius and disaster in your head, so you’re wary of trying it? Who am I kidding, we all have. Well this dish is one of those visions, and I’m going to come right out and say that the scale tipped heavily towards genius. The sweetness of the parsnips married with the sharpness of the lemon and garlic, tempered by buttery walnuts and fragrant basil, all tossed with pasta, olive oil, spinach, and onions… YESSSSS!


I love parsnips. For such a humble and homely vegetable (they look pretty much like white carrots), they have a wonderful, enticingly-sweet flavor. They’re one of my regular winter farmers’ market buys, but until this dish, I hadn’t been inspired to do anything with them past roasting and throwing in soups, etc. etc. (AKA standard root veggie stuff). With my pantry and fridge pretty cleaned out from hosting an Easter brunch, I was facing limited options for flavor combinations. I’m happy to say that all of the produce used in this dish (minus the lemon) was from my local farmers’ market! Woo!


Pasta with lemony parsnip pesto

Never tried parsnips? Try your local farm stand or market in fall or winter for these tasty gems. This dish is a fabulous introduction to their sweet, fragrant flavors. It calls for walnuts and basil, but feel free to change up the nuts and herbs as your taste or pantry options may guide you (oooh how about pine nuts and parsley?). Enjoy!  

** Pesto base recipe adapted from Healthy. Happy. Life. **


1 large parsnip, or equivalent (I used 3 small ones), peeled, quartered, woody core removed, and cut into 1-inch chunks

3-4 TBS hot water (I used reserved parsnip steaming water)

1 clove garlic (I used 2 size-challenged cloves)

juice of 1 lemon (1-2 TBS)

3 TBS olive oil

1/2 cup walnuts (plus extra for garnish)

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (plus extra for garnish)

1.5 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

pinch cayenne pepper

Pasta preparation:

1 lb pasta (I used a package of brown rice spaghetti)

2 TBS olive oil

1 red onion, sliced thin

2 cups spinach, chopped

Steam parsnips for 10-15 minutes until tender, reserving liquid (optional). Meanwhile, boil water for pasta and cook according to package instructions. Puree parsnips in blender (I used my immersion blender with accompanying beaker) with 3 TBS of hot water (reserved steaming water). Add in remaining pesto ingredients and blend, adding more water as needed. After draining and rinsing pasta, add 2 TBS olive oil to pot (I just rinsed out the pasta pot and threw it back on the stove) and heat on medium-high. Add onion and spinach and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and spinach is wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Toss with pasta, and serve with a dollop of pesto and some extra basil and walnuts.

Serves 6-8.

IMG_3566Removing the “woody” core – wherever parsnip is about 1-inch thick or more, quarter, then slice off the core.

IMG_3567How about some time in the steam bath for you, my pretties? (wow, that sounded creepy.  yes, I talk to my produce.)

IMG_3569Love love LOVED this dish! You can’t go wrong with a plateful of pasta, fresh veggies, and bold flavors.

6 thoughts on “Pasta with lemony parsnip pesto (vegan/gf)

  1. Carole says:

    Lovely dish! Would you be happy to link it in to the new Food on Friday which is all about parsnip and pumpkin? This is the link . I do hope to see you there. Cheers

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