Saffron Potato & Parsnip Mash with Smoked Paprika

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

So...we're going right from those healthy collard green wraps and diving into a bowl of luxurious mashed potatoes. The catch? This dish is also Whole 30 compliant. I try to stay away from eating too many starchy root veggies while I'm on Whole 30, but once in awhile that craving hits. So it's nice that you can still enjoy some comfort foods, even without the dairy, sugar or gluten. Mashed potatoes are no exception. I used unsweetened cashew milk, ghee (clarified butter) and olive oil for a decadent texture that didn't feel like something was substituted. So while you won't miss the milk or heavy cream, by all means feel free to use it if dairy isn't a concern to you.

I was inspired by saffron, a spice that I don't use very often but want to explore. It's pricey (the most expensive spice in the world, to be exact) but you only need a pinch to season a pot of food. Too much saffron can actually ruin a dish, so trust me less is more. I appreciated that the jar of saffron I purchased came with vials of portioned saffron, so it took some of the guesswork out for me! The flavor of saffron is subtle but unique. I don't know that I've ever read a great description, it's just one of those things you'll remember once you taste it. I think it's enhanced by a little bit of sweetness, which is why I included parsnips in the mashed potato mix. I love the color and aroma of saffron as well, which I think is just as much of what you experience when you taste a dish seasoned with saffron. Whatever you do, don't substitute turmeric. Although they'll both give foods a bright yellow color, turmeric is a totally different flavor profile.

I made my saffron potato and parsnip mash with a Moroccan inspired Shephard's Pie in mind, which I'll be sharing in the next post! I think this side dish would also be excellent with a nice piece of fish or as an upgrade to your Thanksgiving potatoes.

Saffron Potato & Parsnip Mash with Smoked Paprika

2 lbs russet potatoes
1 lb parsnips
2 fresh bay leaves
Kosher salt, as needed
Pinch of saffron threads
3/4 cup cashew milk, or as needed
1/4 cup clarified butter or ghee, melted
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: Makes about 3 cups, serves 4 to 6
Special Equipment: large pot, potato masher, food processor or electric hand mixer (optional)

Scrub and peel the potatoes and parsnips.

Dice the potatoes and parsnips into one inch pieces and add to a pot of salted water. Add the bay leaves and bring the pot to a boil. You'll want the potatoes and parsnips to be cut into evenly sized pieces so they'll cook at the same rate.

Meanwhile, crush and steep saffron threads in 2 tablespoons of hot water. I used a mortar and pestle, but you can use the bottom of a cup or even your fingers if nothing else. Steeping the saffron will bloom the flavors.

Cook the potatoes and parsnips until they are fork tender. Drain the water and return them to the pot to dry (discard bay leaf.)

Gently warm the cashew milk. Whisk in the melted butter and saffron water. Pour the liquid over the cooked potatoes and parsnips.

Mash the hell out of everything. Alternatively, transfer to your food processor. (Personally, I'm cool on not washing more dishes!) Once the mixture is mashed and liquid absorbed, season to taste with salt and pepper. As with any mash you may need a little more or little less milk, so adjust as needed. It will look like you have too much milk in the beginning but thickens up the more you get in there.

The last step is optional but transforms the texture into something really divine. With a hand mixer on high speed (or food processor running), stream in all but about a tablespoon of the olive oil.

 Now we're talking. Season to taste with salt and pepper again, if needed.

To serve, transfer to your serving bowl and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top.  Dive in!

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  1. Going to test this luxurious side dish tonight to prep for Thanksgiving!