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Carrots and parsnips - but grated

"A latticework of grated carrots and parsnips." Nigel Slater

I was rather taken by Nigel Slater's words about a latticework of grated carrots and parsnips, so decided I would see what in fact you could do with grated carrots and parsnips. The answer is really just about anything that you and clever cooks can imagine. Except that I couldn't find the one thing that he was talking about - a topping made of grated carrots and parsnips on some kind of pie. Well I haven't found anything as yet. Mashed carrots and parsnips yes, but not grated. The above photograph of Carrot, parsnip and potato hash from a website called Little Grazers was the nearest I came to it. This is indeed a latticework of grated carrot and parsnip but with the addition of potato and spring onions and some egg to make it all stick together. As the author says, you can make it in smaller pieces, but she likes to spread it out in one piece before baking and then cut into pieces for her children for breakfast.

I started researching this yesterday with the mistaken memory of grated carrots and potatoes, but no it was parsnips. Then I thought I'd just go with roots in general, but finally decided to stay faithful to the original quote and stick with carrots and parsnips - and just grated ones, although I have to confess that here and there I have allowed in shredded, julienned and also very thinly peeled strips - and one spiralized something. Well they are all a sort of grated thing I thought - thin slivers anyway. I did ignore thinly sliced discs though.

Before I dive into what I found I will just mention three recipes I have made again and again, that were mini revelations with respect to grating vegetables.

The first is Potage Crécy from Elizabeth David's book French Provincial Cooking. I think it was one of the first things I made from that book, because I remembered eating it in France with very fond memories. And her recipe produced a very similar result. The thing is that you grate the carrots, with some potatoes and shallots and a pinch of sugar, add some butter, cover the pan and almost melt them over a very low flame, before adding the stock. It makes a huge difference to the soup, and was so successful that I often grate carrots and almost melt them for all sorts of other dishes - like a spring influenced pasta.

The second is a kind of carrot gnocchi from Bert Greene that he calls Amish Carrot dumplings. I think the recipe used to be online but is not accessible any more. A similar one is from Grace Parisi on the Food and Wine website but she doesn't grate her carrots, she slices thinly, cooks in butter and then mashes them. Not quite the same. Anyway I often make these gnocchi as they have a lovely taste and texture, which I think is helped by the grating. Bert Greene suggests serving them with a spicy sauce, which I always mean to make but never have.

Bert Greene calls them dumplings - and of course there are all the other kind of dumplings too - from the English kind that you put on top of your stew to the Chinese kind that you eat at a yum cha. I'm guessing you could stuff those with a carrot and parsnip mixture. And talking of stuffing - well you could stuff all manner of things.

And finally Julia Child's Sautéed shredded zucchini, the recipe for which you can find on a website called Panning the Globe. I first had these as a side dish at one of my gourmet friends' house about which she said that in making it, it had been like discovering a whole new vegetable. Very true, and I have made it a few times myself since then..

But back to today's attempt at finding things to do with grated carrots and parsnips - in combination.

I guess the immediate leap from the hash that I began with is rösti, latkes, fritters, pancakes and then patties or whatever you want to call them. All very similar and just a tiny touch different from each other, demonstrating how different cuisines and different people vary one fundamental principle - grate root vegetables, add flavours, bind with egg, or mix with mashed potato, shape into discs of varying thickness and fry. And all those names are interchangeable. And of course you can flavour them with whatever you fancy. As below: Carrot, parsnip and cumin rösti with poached eggs and black pepper labne from Dish of New Zealand; Carrot and parsnip latkes from Weelicious; and Carrot and parsnip pancakes from Cuisinart

Toss them in batter and you have bhaji (Carrot and parsnip bhajias with coriander and chilli chutney from Nadiya Hussain); mix them with egg and you have a frittata, (Carrot, zucchini and parsnip frittata fingers) / Taste; put your frittata in pastry and you have a tart (Carrot and parsnip tart) / Almanac.

You can just cook them though - perhaps in a stir-fry - Korean stir-fried shredded potatoes from J Kenji López-Alt - there are carrots but no parsnips in this particular dish, but you could easily add them; Nigel Slater himself contributes Baked roots with curry cream; and then you can shred or spiralize and turn into a kind of pasta - Carrot and parsnip fettuccine from Food52; or Carrot and parsnip cacio e pepe from Williams Sonoma and Dad's parsnip and carrot combo from one of Nigella's community contributors called Coby - although there is no picture of this one.

One of the things I noticed with all this playing around with a particular pairing of ingredients was how many of these recipes came, not from the celebrity chefs and prestige foodie magazines, but from bloggers. Almost ordinary people, although, of course, some of them are making a career out of this pastime.

You might think I've finished but no. So three outliers. Well slaw is not an outlier - there are dozens of recipes for slaws, but I picked out just one - from Ottolenghi who, of course, is not quite standard - Root vegetable slaw with Stilton; delicious. in the UK offers a dhal dish - Parsnip and carrot dhal and the real outlier is this very interesting looking Carrot and parsnip chutney from David Atherton's sister-in-law.

Then there's bread. These baguettes are from ICA Gruppen who calls them Carrot and parsnip bread with olives whilst also offering several suggestions for varying the recipe. Elsewhere there are recipes for yeast breads, sweet breads, soda breads, vegan, gluten free ... Heaps of them.

Carrots and parsnips are both on the sweet side of course, which brings me to my final group of sweet delights. And let me tell you there are just as many of these. Here are a few: Carrot and parsnip compost cookies / Liam Charles; Carrot, parsnip and beetroot cupcakes / Coles Magazine; Carrot, parsnip and pecan cake / Ceres/Fair Food and a totally amazing and probably time-consuming cake - Spiced parsnip and carrot cake with burnt honey cream cheese frosting and root vegetable chips / Gather and Feast

Who knew you could do so many things with grated carrots and parsnips? I myself thought also of risotto, not pizza I think though but definitely you could concoct a pasta sauce. Soup of course is an option too. And yes Nigel Slater's original idea of a lattice of grated carrot and parsnip on top of some kind of stewy base to make a kind of pie, could indeed work. Instead of cheese perhaps. Or even mixed with cheese.

And if you roast or mash them then there are a whole lot more opportunities - even ice cream.

I have talked about just parsnips and carrots here, but there are of course other root vegetables that could be used in much the same way - beetroot, sweet potato, celeriac, maybe pumpkin although they might be a bit soft for some things. They are all winter vegetables and carrots at least are still reasonably cheap. So get out your grater and start inventing.

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