Sweet and earthy parsnips are a staple of British veg patches. They are also easy to prepare and very affordable. Here, sliced into fingers, they make a delicious partner for caramelised shallots cut with salty pancetta and an aromatic pine nut and sage butter. With pasta, they make for a simple, rich and warming sauce that’s perfect for an autumnal weeknight dinner.
Linguine with caramelised shallots, parsnips and sage butter
Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min
8 shallots (about 400g)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 small bunch fresh thyme
Salt and black pepper
4-5 parsnips (about 400g), peeled and cut into fingers
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
200ml white wine (optional)
150g pancetta (or bacon), diced
300g linguine or spaghetti
Parmesan, to serve
For the sage butter
40g pine nuts
15 sage leaves
Peel the shallots, cut them in half lengthways, then cut each half lengthways into three pieces. Warm the oil in a shallow pan over a medium heat, add the shallots and thyme, add a good pinch of salt and soften for five minutes.
Add the parsnips to the shallot pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes; you want them to catch and brown a little in the pan. Add the vinegar and wine (or water, if you prefer), cover and leave to steam for 10 minutes. When soft, take off the lid, cook until all the liquid has evaporated, then add the pancetta and saute, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of well salted water to boil and cook the pasta until just al dente, according to the packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter in a pan until melted and sizzling, then stir in the pine nuts and sage leaves, and cook until the butter starts to brown and the pine nuts turn a pale caramel colour. Season and take offthe heat.
Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of its cooking water, then add to the parsnip and shallot. Toss and stir, loosening the mix with some of the reserved pasta water, then check the seasoning. Serve in deep, warmed bowls with the sage butter poured over and grated parmesan served alongside.
The simple flex
If you are cooking for vegetarians, simply exclude the pancetta and use a vegetarian hard cheese instead of the parmesan; you may find, though, that you’ll need to add an extra pinch of sea salt for seasoning.