There's something about a thick slice of crunchy toast that makes any brunch, snack or lunch just a little bit better. Maybe it's the convenience of quick preparation, the heartiness that leaves you feeling satiated, or the fact that it's the chewy-on-the-outside and soft-in-the-center vehicle for any topping your heart desires—beyond the usual avocado toast.
A blond carrot look-alike, the parsnip often goes unnoticed. It might have to do with the fact that after peeling the outside and discarding the core, the actual vegetable yields a small amount of usable veg. But even if you have to buy in bulk, it's still pretty cheap and full of unexpectedly sweet yet earthy flavor. When caramelizing the parsnip, be sure to go darker than you think. A deep mahogany-brown color is key in extracting the ultimate rich flavor. Pro tip: Chile oil is very spicy; be sure to taste it before deciding how much to drizzle over the dish.
Check out some of our favorite toast recipes.
Caramelized Parsnip and Ricotta Toast
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes, plus cooling time
For the Chile Oil:
½ cup dried red Thai chiles
½ cup vegetable oil
For the Quick-Pickled Red Onions:
½ cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
For the Caramelized Parsnip Purée:
¼ cup olive oil
6 medium (1 pound) parsnips—peeled, core removed, roughly chopped
1 cup warm water
Kosher salt, to taste
For the Caramelized Parsnip and Ricotta Toast:
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Four ½-inch-thick slices sourdough bread
½ cup parsley leaves
½ cup carrot-top leaves
1 medium purple carrot—rinsed, dried, ends removed and thinly sliced on a bias
1 medium yellow carrot—rinsed, dried, ends removed and thinly sliced on a bias
1 medium white carrot—rinsed, dried, ends removed and thinly sliced on a bias
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
¾ cup ricotta cheese
Caramelized parsnip purée
Quick-pickled red onions
¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Chile oil, for drizzling
1. Make the chile oil: In the base of a food processor, blend the dried Thai chiles and vegetable oil on high, until the chiles are broken down into a fine paste. Transfer the chile mixture to a bowl and allow to steep.
2. Make the quick-pickled red onions: In a small saucepot, combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and pour over the red onion slices in a medium bowl. Set the mixture aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Make the caramelized parsnip purée: In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped parsnips and stir often. The parsnips will sweat and release moisture at first, but once they begin to pick up color, the process will go quickly. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes over high heat or until they develop a deep-mahogany color. Dump the parsnips into a high-speed blender. Turn the blender on high and stream in the water slowly. Blend the mixture until a smooth and thick paste forms. Add more water as needed. Season with salt and keep warm for later.
4. Make the toast: Get a grill pan to smoking point over high heat. Using 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, brush both sides of each sourdough slice. Grill the bread until each slice has grill marks and is toasted and warm all the way through, 5 to 7 minutes.
5. In a medium bowl, toss together the parsley, carrot-top leaves, thinly sliced carrots, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt. Strain the chile oil and reserve for assembling.
6. Assemble the toast: On each slice of grilled sourdough, spread 2 tablespoons of ricotta, top with 2 tablespoons of the caramelized parsnip purée; garnish with the carrot salad, quick-pickled red onions and hazelnuts; drizzle with the chile oil; then serve.