Creamy Coconut Parsnip Rice with Caramelized Butternut Squash

by Gena on November 12, 2011

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Creamy coconut parsnip rice with caramelized butternut squash: it’s the kind of recipe that sounds so exotic, so rich, and so layered. In some ways, this recipe is all of those things. What it is NOT is difficult, time consuming, or unapproachable, which exotic and layered recipes often are. In fact, the roasted squash (which could be swapped out for different ad-ons) is the most time-consuming part of this recipe. In these busy November days, with my semester heading into its closing stages, I’ve never needed recipes like this one—quick, easy, filling, and complex—more urgently.

If you’re curious about what, exactly, makes caramelized squash caramelized, it’s a good question: essentially, it is simply butternut squash that has been roasted at high temperatures with a touch of sugar and salt. The end product is covered with a sweet and salty glaze—hence the comparison to caramel. It’s one of my favorite means of preparing any winter squash, and it’s also a killer method for beets, carrots, and parsnips, the latter of which is the other star of this dish!

This meal, like many of my combo raw/cooked meals, is room temperature or just lukewarm: the parsnip rice is room temperature, and the cooked squash heats it up a bit when you mix. You can absolutely heat the whole dish gently in a sauté pan, if you’re in the mood for a warmer meal, or even steam the parsnips. You can also do as I did, and dehydrate the parsnip rice for about 10-15 minutes before you mix it with the coconut milk, salt, and other ingredients. None of these steps are necessary if you’re in a rush: they are simply means of creating a warmer plate, which I know is a priority for many of my readers as we head into winter months.

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Creamy Coconut Parsnip Rice with Caramelized Butternut Squash (high raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)

Serves 2

For the caramelized squash:

2 lbs (about one small) butternut squash, peeled and diced into inch cubes
2 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp dermerara or palm sugar (date paste, maple syrup, and agave are all acceptable substitutes, but I like the traditional use of sugar here)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Toss the squash in the oil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, until squash is tender and getting brown. You can (and should) leave it in the over for a few minutes longer if you want a more caramelized effect. Set aside till you’re ready to make dinner.

For the creamy parsnip rice:

4-5 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
Juice of half a lime
2/3-3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat or low fat, but full fat is nice here)
2 tsps agave
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)

1) Place parsnip and salt in a food processor and process till the mixture resembles rice. At this point, you can dehydrate it for about 10-15 minutes to warm it up, if you so desire.

2) Transfer rice to a bowl and mix with your coconut milk, lime, agave, and cinnamon. Mix in your butternut squash, check seasoning, and dig into a fresh bowl of sweet, creamy comfort.

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Note that while the squash works really well in this recipe, you can substitute a raw veggie to make it all raw, or any combination of roast or steamed veggies in place of squash. The rice here is a wonderful template for further culinary experiments!! And there’s a lot you can do with the rice, too: currants, raisins, and lime zest would be a fun place to start.

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Dishes like this embody the versatility that I so embrace in cooking. Raw or cooked, complex or simple, salty or sweet: there are so many ways to customize this meal!

Anyway, before I go, apologies for having disappeared for a day. It’s hard for me to a) write my blog and b) cook things to write about on my blog when I’m gearing up for two exams. Even so, I’m always dying to get back to the keyboard when I take a hiatus, however quick: I miss you all, and our conversations.

Hope you’re having fantastic weekends.

xo

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga November 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm

The flavor combination of the coconut milk, lime, agave, and cinnamon sounds awesome. Lime and coconut feel so tropical and given it’s rainy, cloudy, dreary, cold and awful here today, I could sure use some tropical in my life about now :)

I like making rice and quinoa with coconut milk b/c it makes it so creamy and rich. Plant based decadence.

You should submit the pics to the food sites. The second one from the bottom, pretty much a guaranteed shoe-in. Any of them, really! Gorgeous lighting and it’s so hard to shoot white food and not have it get lost in the frame and you nailed it! I’m hungry now :)

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Ela November 12, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Wow, you’ve totally got me with this one–just love it! I’ve been nibbling on raw parsnip when I roast them lately, and coconut’s always a wonderful idea.

I love the idea of some goji berries in there too, even some chopped celery and/or apples–but I’d love to try it with just the squash also. I’m on the road, but maybe when I get back.

Good luck on your exams! I personally never think daily blog posts are a ‘must’–we’re all super-busy and we all understand.
love
Ela

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FoodFeud November 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm

This sounds incredible, Gena! I bought a bunch of parsnips recently for a parsnip-celeriac soup and I wanted to use the others to make your parsnip cheese but this might take precedence. I love to learn new ways to eat parsnip raw.

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Ricki November 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Having fallen totally in love with your raw parsnip sushi rice, I *know* that I will love this combo, too! And the squash is such a lovely addition. And as it happens. . . the SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient this month is parsnips! I hope you’ll consider linking up the recipe–would love to have it there! :)

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Amanda November 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I’m so excited to try your recipe for the creamy parsnip rice. The flavor combination sounds phenomenal.

Good luck on your exams! I can only imagine how difficult it is to balance school with blogging and everything else I’m sure you have on your plate, but know that it’s obvious how much thought goes into each of your posts. Thanks for taking the time. :)

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Rande @ The Vegetable Centric Kitchen November 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm

This sounds outrageously delicious! Thanks for the tip on caramelizing squash!

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Arielle (Your Vegan Girlfriend) November 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Yum! I love the coconut milk and bn squash combo… sounds like the perfect vegan cold weather dinner.

good luck on your exams girlfriend!

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Laura November 12, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Ha, I don’t think I helped your time crunch today! But loved catching up!! I know I’m going to be back for more of those kale chips before I leave the city…

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Gena November 13, 2011 at 7:52 am

Phhft! Seeing you was the highlight of this weekend.

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Ali November 12, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Hey girl! This looks awesome, My Baby Sister is OBSESSED with caramelized veggies, and I am sure she would love this. It would be awesome with kabocha squash I bet! I hope your end of semester is awesome and doable for you love.

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Alexia @ NamasteYoga November 13, 2011 at 7:32 am

unfortunately i dont have a proper food processor to make parsnip rice with :( i am trying my best with a hand blender but that doesnt really work. so next thing is grating the parsnip and adding the remaining ingredients. this recipe sounds so tempting that i will just have to try it with the things given in my kitchen!

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Gena November 13, 2011 at 7:53 am

For what it’s worth, I think processors are the single most important and vital piece of kitchen equipment you can purchase, so when the time is right, it’s worth it!

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) November 13, 2011 at 11:17 am

I can’t get enough butternut squash these days so I’m so excited to try this recipe! I love plant-based recipes that are decadently creamy.

And don’t apologise for your absence, I’m always in awe of how you’re able to balance blogging, school, exercise and what I imagine is a very busy schedule. Everyone’s allowed a little hiatus every once in a while! Good luck with your exams. :)

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Christina @ HealthyCosmos November 13, 2011 at 11:21 am

Yum! Gena, this looks delicious. I’ve been out of the country for the past month so haven’t been able to try the delicious recipes you’ve been posting. I just got back and can’t wait to try this! I’ve been craving butternut squash immensely :)

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Katie @ Serenity in the Storm November 13, 2011 at 11:32 am

Yum! I love butternut squash, particularly roasted with a little lime, ginger, and salt and pepper.

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Bex November 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm

This looks delicious! I don’t have a butternut at the moment, but maybe sweet potato would taste right and give that same color contrast that’s so beautiful here.

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anastasia@healthymamainfo.com November 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm

This is a great idea for breakfast! My son has a very strong allergy to coconut, is there anything you would recommend to put instead?

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melissa November 13, 2011 at 7:02 pm

gena, you’ve outdone yourself again. this looks delicious and pretty easy! if the doctor thing doesn’t work out, please come back to ny and open a restaurant. just kidding, dr gena is going to save the world.

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles November 13, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I’ve never eaten a parsnip before! This looks like a great place to start, the idea of caramelized squash sounds decadent and appealing. Wishing you luck as your semester comes to an end!

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Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day November 14, 2011 at 7:59 am

Oh, that looks so good! I love the raw/roasted combo

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Heather November 14, 2011 at 9:43 am

We miss you back, Gena!

This looks lovely. The curry sounds like the perfect addition to this, too!

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Lori @ Lori Wants Happy November 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm

It’s funny, I don’t mind room temperature foods in the colder months (or ever, honestly). It’s cold foods like ice cream and smoothies that I can’t tolerate. This recipe sounds awesome, and I randomly bought parsnips for the first time ever the other day with no idea what to do with them. Thanks for this!

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Sara November 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Wow. Ok, so I’ve never eaten a parsnip in my life and the thought of eating it raw scares me, but I’m going to make this next week as I *love* butternut squash, coconut milk and curry! I can’t wait to try it! Good luck on your exams, I am in the same boat. I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

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Laura Neff November 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Sara, parsnips are so good! They do make a great raw “rice,” but also, if you enjoy roasted veggies…they are AMAZING roasted! Toss them with some onion, sweet potato, garlic, carrots…coconut oil, salt, pepper, any other spices you like, and roast away. They’re so sweet and truly delicious. You’ll be hooked. :)

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barefoot and frolicking November 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm

this looks awesome Gena – thank you for sharing!

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Heather J November 14, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Wow! I never considered eating parsnips raw. After I saw Ricki’s version of your sushi rice on her blog, I bought some local parsnips to give it a shot… And thenl I saw this sweet version! This was super easy and I swear it’s almost like rice pudding! The creaminess of the (full fat) coconut milk really makes for a wonderful texture. I added some raisins and I’m letting it sit in the fridge to soften and to plump up the raisins. Mmmm… Thank you for this inventive recipe!

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Laura Neff November 19, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Just had this for dinner…*so* yummy, and so perfect for this time of year! I had some fresh pumpkin and fennel from the farmer’s market, so I used them instead of the butternut squash. Also, I added some raw walnuts sprinkled on top of each bowl. SO good, and it made plenty…enough for dinner tonight for 2 as well as lunch tomorrow. Thanks, Gena! :)

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Jill Z November 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Yum Gena! i made this last week and fell in love with the recipe. I thought the raw parsnips would be a bit too much raw for my husband, but he was totally on board and i can’t wait to make this again. The coconut milk just makes the rice so creamy, and it was super easy in the food processor. Thanks!!

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Julie December 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm

That looks SO good! Do you think this could work with cauliflower instead of parsnip, since that’s what I have right now? I’ve seen sone cauliflower ‘rice’ recipes out there s, so I thought it might work…

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Gena December 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I think cauliflower would work, but keep in mind that it’s not at all sweet like parsnips are, so you may want to add some sweetness to the recipe as compensation.

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Betsy January 9, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Any thoughts on refined vs. unrefined coconut oil? Also, any hints on getting it to coat the squash since it’s basically in solid form? Thank you! Love your blog!

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Gena January 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Betsy, I place it in some warm water until it’s nice and liquified again. I always use refined.

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Carolyn Winter March 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Finally tried out this recipe after oggling it for months. I used lemon instead of the lime I did not have and just skipped the coconut oil as I did have that either. Wish I had the full fat coconut milk but the light version did fine. What a great dish!!!!!

A real keeper recipe that is slightly unusual.

Thanks
Carolyn

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Liz January 23, 2013 at 4:23 am

This recipe was the best yet, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Jen March 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Argh, while tasty it was waaaaay too sweet for dinner, my husband that I’ve been trying get to eat more veggies ended up dumping it and warming up a piece of pork!

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Gena March 21, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Yikes! Sorry Jen. I have a sweet/savory tooth. Hopefully another recipe will please him more.

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