Crunchy topped parsnip gratin

A rustic Italian salad made with bread, olive oil and tomatoes is the perfect accompaniment to Rachel Allens creamy vegetable bake
By Rachel Allen
Crunchy topped parsnip gratin
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • 25 g butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, leaves
  • good pinch nutmeg
  • pinch sugar
  • 800 g parsnips, very thinly sliced

For the topping

  • 25 g white breadcrumbs
  • 15 g finely grated parmesan
  • 15 g butter, melted

For the panzanella salad

  • 3 slices ciabatta, or white bread, preferably a couple of days old, broken into chunks
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 12 black olive, such as kalamata, pitted
  • 8 tinned anchovies, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp torn or roughly chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
  • pinch sugar, optional
  • chopped basil, leaves, to garnish

Tips and Suggestions

The gratin on its own would make a great make-ahead side dish to serve with a roast dinner


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter a 23x18cmx5cm deep gratin dish and place it on a baking sheet.

2. Pour the cream into a large saucepan. Place on a medium heat and add the garlic, thyme and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar, bring just to the boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the parsnip slices then pour everything into the gratin dish, spreading the parsnips out evenly. Scatter the diced butter over the top and bake for 25-30 minutes until the parsnips are nearly done.

3. For the topping: put the bread crumbs and the parmesan cheese in a bowl, pour in the melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the bread crumb mixture over the top of the gratin and bake for 10 minutes until crisp and golden. The parsnips should be soft when pierced with a knife.

4. For the panzanella salad: scatter the bread in a shallow-sided serving dish, then drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil. Squeeze out the seeds from the tomatoes not every single one, but just enough to ensure the bread doesnt get too soggy. Chop the tomato flesh and add to the bread, along with the remaining ingredients, tossing them all together and season to taste with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar if needed. Garnish with basil leaves.

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