Creamy Coconut Parsnip Rice with Caramelized Butternut Squash

Creamy Coconut Parsnip Rice with Caramelized Butternut Squash

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.

Creamy Coconut Parsnip Rice with Caramelized Butternut Squash

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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.


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Categories: Main Dishes
Ingredients: Butternut Squash
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free

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  1. Thank you for the recipe. I would like to expand the quantity/servings and don’t see how much cooked rice was used with this recipe calling for 2/3 – 3/4 cup coconut milk. Did you start with say a cup of uncooked rice and then add the milk while it was warm?

  2. 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!

  3. 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.


  4. 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!

  5. 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…

    • 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.

  6. 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!!

  7. 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! 🙂

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

    • 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. 🙂

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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 🙂

  15. 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. 🙂

  16. 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!

    • 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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…

  19. 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. 🙂

  20. 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! 🙂

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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 🙂