Parsnip Recipe

This gnocchi is very light in texture but robust in flavor – the parsnips’ sweetness is brought out further by roasting before incorporating it into the dough, and the tang of the goat cheddar sings cheerfully alongside the bay leaves and Meyer lemon punctuating the brown butter. The candied shallots are mellowed and deepened by caramelizing with maple sugar and rosemary, followed by a simmering bath in a cup of the Riesling. The bacon, which could easily steal the show, settles in comfortably with the other notes to add some quiet magic. 


Winter in the Finger Lakes can swing wildly between a slate-gray frozen tundra, a frigid but sparkling blue sky glinting off the lake, and, this year, days that feel as gentle and warm as April, with confused snowdrops and aconite poking their faces above the earth. When this recipe appeared in my mind, it was one of those slate-gray frozen February days. All I wanted was a honeyed breath of summer, paired with something comforting – a dish with the practical core of a New England grandmother (I know a thing or two about those), but dressed up in the bronze and velvet richness of brown butter. For that breath of summer, the Semi-Dry Riesling from Hermann J. Wiemer was calling my name – and the rest of the recipe unfolded to match. 

YIELD: 4-5 generous servings

EQUIPMENT: 1 Large mixing bowl, two small bowls, food processor, knife, bench knife or smaller knife, two forks (or one fork, and a ridged gnocchi board), cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, sheet tray, baking dish, parchment paper, aluminum foil, box grater, cast iron skillet or frying pan, medium-large pot, slotted spoon, paper towels

DIETARY INFO: Contains gluten, dairy, meat, and eggs


For the gnocchi:

  • 2 cups parsnips (about 2 large parsnips), roasted, cooled, and shredded

  • ½ cup whole milk ricotta

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup flour, divided (half for the dough, half for rolling)

  • 1/3 cup shredded goat cheddar and/or Parmigiano Reggiano (gruyere would also be delicious)

  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

For the candied shallots and bacon:

  • ¼ pound jowl bacon (guanciale) – the better the bacon, the better the dish!

  • 6 shallots (or fewer if you’re lucky enough to find giant local shallots, as I was!)

  • 2 tablespoons of butter

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 

  • 3 tablespoons of maple sugar

  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

  • 1 cup Hermann J. Wiemer Semi-Dry Riesling

For the brown butter:

  • 1 stick (¼ pound) of salted butter

  • 3 fresh bay leaves

  • 2 Meyer lemons


For the Gnocchi: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Wash and dry parsnips, drizzle with olive oil, and rub till evenly coated. Wrap in foil and place in a baking pan. Roast for ~30 minutes or until tender. 

  2. Cool completely, then use a food processor to grate/puree the parsnips. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also try grating them on a box grater, though it may be a little more of a crumbly dough. 

  3. Add the parsnip puree to the large mixing bowl. Add the remainder of the dough ingredients: ½ cup of flour, the egg, ricotta, grated cheese, and salt. Mix with a fork until the dough comes together (it will be shaggy and damp, but don’t add more flour). 

  4. Take about a quarter of the dough at a time, and on a floured surface (using the remaining ½ cup of flour, a bit at a time), shape/roll with your hands into a rope of about ½” thick. The dough may break apart slightly – that’s ok! Just gather the extra bits and add them back to the dough. 

  5. Cut the rope into 1” segments, and roll each of these on the tines of a fork (or on a gnocchi board) to form ridges.

  6. Place formed gnocchi on a parchment-lined baking tray, and freeze until ready to cook. 

For the brown butter:

  1. Over medium heat, melt butter until it foams and turns a deep brown, with a nutty scent. This may take anywhere from 2-5 minutes. 

  2. Turn off the heat, then zest two lemons directly into the hot butter, and add the three bay leaves. Set the pan aside, and let the aromatics steep in the butter until somewhat cool, about 10 minutes. 

  3. Transfer the butter, bay leaves included, to the small bowl and let sit at room temp till you need it. You’ll use the skillet again next for the bacon, so no need to wash it.

Hermann J

For the bacon/candied shallots:

  1. Chop and sauté the bacon on low heat on the same skillet you used for the butter – you want to render the fat and get the bacon delicately crisp so that another few minutes in the pan at the end of the recipe won’t make it overcooked. Remove the bacon and let drain on paper towels, and pour off the bacon fat (to be used later, or not – up to you!). 

  2. Chop the shallots and rosemary (finely chop the rosemary; a rough chop is fine for the shallots). 

  3. In the same skillet, on medium heat, melt butter and olive oil until warm. Add the shallots and sauté for about 5 minutes, until golden. 

  4. Add the maple sugar and stir well, then sauté until the sugar starts to caramelize, about 3-5 minutes. 

  5. Lastly, add the cup of Riesling, and turn to high briefly – once bubbling, turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to the other small bowl. 

  6. Reserve the skillet – you’ll use it once more.

Assembling the final dish: 
  1. Bring the medium/large pot of salted water to a boil, then gently add the gnocchi (you may wish to do this in batches if your pot is on the smaller side). Give a very gentle stir with the slotted spoon so they don’t stick together. Once the gnocchi float to the surface, cook only for another 5-7 seconds. Remove them with the slotted spoon, and let drain on paper towels. 

  2. Over medium heat, add half the brown butter (remove the bay leaves). Once fully melted again, add half of the gnocchi (unless your skillet is spacious enough to handle all of it), and gently stir until golden brown. 

  3. Add half the bacon and shallots, and sauté for another few minutes. 

  4. Lastly, turn the heat to high, and deglaze the pan with the juice from the Meyer lemons and a decent splash of the Riesling (hopefully by this point, you have a glass in your hand as well). Transfer the mixture to a serving dish or dishes, and repeat with the remaining ingredients. 

  5. Take a bite, take a sip, and see if you can resist doing a dance of deliciousness – I bet you cannot. Enjoy, and share with people you love.