Black Tagliatelle with Parsnip Ribbons & Infectious TV Chefs

Tagliatelle Neri con Nastri della Pastinaca (Black Tagliatelle with Parsnip Ribbons)

In my opinion, infectious enthusiasm should be treated in exactly the same way as all infectious diseases; i.e. quashed ruthlessly with whatever combination of chemicals is necessary. With that statement out there, it’s probably unnecessary to further outline my feelings towards TV’s favorite, lovable faux-Cockney, Jamie Oliver. However, and as I have referred to in at least one other post, I grudgingly concede that he can cook, so from time to time – against my better judgment – I find myself thinking I should try some of his food…

… Just not today. Instead, I took (okay, stole) inspiration from one of his earlier shows – in which he made lunch for an Italian-British restaurateur who gave him one of his first breaks in the food biz - and made a tagliatelle and parsnip dish I am going to call my own regardless of its similarities to his.

You’ll notice that it’s parsnips again - our attempts at seasonal eating continue. The key to the dish is texture, so your parsnips have to be sliced finely enough to resemble the cooked pasta under your teeth – a mandolin or a vegetable peeler are your friends here. Then, only when it’s in your mouth do you taste the parsnip-y sweetness vs. the smooth starchiness of the pasta. Visually, squid-ink pasta makes the dish look more arresting, but regular would do fine too.

Tagliatelle Neri con Nastri della Pastinaca (Black Tagliatelle with Parsnip Ribbons)

Tagliatelle Neri con Nastri della Pastinaca (Black Tagliatelle with Parsnip Ribbons)


  • 1lb black (or regular) tagliatelle
  • 1 large or 2 small parsnips, skinned and sliced into thin ribbons
  • 3-4 asparagus spears, sliced into ribbons
  • 4tbsp good olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes/peperoncino
  • 1 splash (c. 1oz) dry white wine
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1tbsp grated parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano


  1. Place pasta in boiling salted water and cook for seven minutes
  2. In the meantime, heat large skillet/saute pan to medium high and add oil.
  3. Hit pan with garlic and peperoncini and allow to flavor oil for a couple of minutes. Do not allow garlic to color.
  4. Toss in parsnips and immediately hit with white wine. Stir.
  5. Timing is important here. Pasta must be nearly done when parsnips go in pan or it’ll all be overcooked.
  6. Drain pasta and toss in with parsnips until well combined and all is coated with oil/wine sauce. Add some pasta water if you’ve not enough liquid.
  7. Kill the fire and hit dish with parsley and grated cheese. Plate quickly and enjoy the dramatic contrast of black pasta and creamy parsnip.

40 thoughts on “Black Tagliatelle with Parsnip Ribbons & Infectious TV Chefs

  1. I thought I’d cooked and eaten every combination of veggies and pasta, but parsnips slipped by me — probably because it’s something I rarely eat (for no good reason). Gotta try it.

  2. I’ll admit it: I like Jamie Oliver. Don’t own any of his books or anything, but I have a soft spot for that doughy Essex boy, even the lisp.

    The carb-on-carb action is hot.

  3. You don’t like infectious enthusiasm? Well, then I hope I never meet you as much as I may have wanted to in the past. 😉

    Nice pasta dish for getting your veggies in. The thin parsnips are a great idea.

  4. Squid ink pasta has a prized place in my food history, having been introduced to it by a great chef friend back in the 80s, who cooked for us a truly whimsical black & red Anti-Valentines Day Dinner, in which squid ink pasta (among many other things) was paired with tomatoes & shrimp & not sure what else. I think I may have to track down & blog the dish this weekend in his honor if I can find some black pasta here…Thanks for the jolt out of pasta monochromy…!

  5. Wow, I would never think to use parsnips in this way. I actually have trouble with them because I think they are too sweet. But in this kind of recipe, I bet they are awesome!

  6. Love how you use the parsnips…I need more parsnips uses as I try to eat as seasonally as possible. Jamie on the other hand, totally bugs. I actually didn’t mind him until he started his Ministry of Food and couldn’t understand why people of low socio-economic conditions didn’t eat as well as him. He was so annoyed people weren’t cooking with fresh ingredients. He didn’t seem to get that most of these people a) don’t have time to cook as they often need to take on multiple jobs, b) couldn’t afford fresh ingredients or the gas to heat their ovens, and c) had limited access to fresh food. Sorry, this comment has gotten off track but I’m just so annoyed with Jamie and his misuse of celebrity right now. Your pasta, on the other hand, looks fabulous!

  7. Parsnips and pasta is definitely not a combination I’ve tried – they generally get roasted or mashed around here (the parsnips, that is, not the pasta). Will have to try it out. Will also have to get a mandolin… (but that’s just ‘cos I want one anyway!)

  8. Love your line about infectious enthusiasm. LOL

    I must admit I do find Jamie Oliver’s enthusiasm genuine, unlike some of the faker chefs out there.

    This dish, with the parsnip strips, intrigues me and I want to try it. Now, you’ve infected me! 😉

  9. I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for that British accent and colloquialism that sound so much more charming than American English (and especially Emeril English). And that looks like a great combo! I’ve never made squid ink pasta because the ink just seems so expensive. Do you notice a difference to justify the price? I can imagine the flavor pairing works great!

  10. all – thanks for your comments. i’m glad this didn’t turn into a “i love Jamie, I hate Jamie” forum. Grudging admiration at times is the best i can muster, and I hear all of you: he is very likeable at times, fiendishly irritating at others, and yes, (while I admire his “mission”) sadly condescending to lower income households about fresh food.

    But, talking about this dish, it really is delicious and while it might seem like an uncommon use of parsnips, you find ‘sweet” things regularly paired with pasta – shrimp, lobster, zucchini blossoms, pumpkin, etc., so the flavor profile is a familiar one. The black pasta, I’ll admit, in this instance, we did not make ourselves, though I can definitely detect a distinct flavor in it, which I think, quite apart from the aesthetic quality, is worth the extra few nicker. Funnily enough, we bought some nero di seppia (cuttlefish ink) sachets recently and they weren’t wildly expensive, and made arroz negro (Spanish black rice) with them and it was freaking awesome. Check back soon, we’ll be posting that one in a week.

  11. hehe.. I have 2 cookbooks by Jamie Oliver that i was thinking about giving away on my blog. Cleaning up the shelves starting by the stuff i don’t use. 🙂 I really think he can cook but so can you. That pasta looks fantastic! Love the parsnip. Yum!

  12. I’ve never had black pasta like this but I love the contrast on the plate and never would have thought to pair parsnips with pasta. This looks amazing!

  13. Mmm. This is good food.
    Am a sucker for black pasta. Must be remnants of my goth stage 🙂
    And I’ll even forgive the Jamie Oliver bit — for the same reasons you do. He happens upon some good grub every now and again…so I can’t hate him in earnest. But, I CAN stick to buying his books rather than watching him in action (which I do).

  14. I adore parsnip, and I’ve only recently had pasta made with squid ink! Not that I have any left, but if I DID I would be all over making this dish. And asparagus! And wine. See? A whole bunch of happy things in one bowl.

  15. Don at Mr. Orph’s kitchen have sat in his living room, drooling over everything Jamie made in one particular episode. I think even the guys can dig him, he’s so cool. I like his live appearances also. The dish look amazing. Something Id try for myself!

  16. yummy yummy yummy i’ve got love in my tummy! this dish looks wonderful. i’m fascinated with the parsnip ribbons – why have i never thought to cook ’em like this 🙂 lovely dish. i so wish to try it.
    Hope you had a great Valentine’s by the way

  17. Now there’s a twist for a pasta dish…parsnip! I like squid ink pasta with a zesty tomato sauce…or roasted red peppers….that’ll evoke some F-ing good times.

  18. Hey there, great site!

    I tried out the squid ink pasta too (making carbonara batalis style.. with the yolk perched in the noods like an egg in a nest… perhaps a little too close to the source symbolically). Did you find that the pasta had less of an al dente texture? Less of that bite?

    I couldn’t figure out if (a) I boiled it wrong (which may be embarrassing) (b) used old pasta or (c) squid ink just rolls that way.
    Nevertheless, this looks really inviting. I’ve never gotten into parsnips, but perhpas I will give it a try.

  19. hey, katiek. thanks for checking us out!

    as for squid ink pasta, i would have definitely remembered if the pasta tasted soggy or over-cooked. DEFINITELY would have remembered. there’s nothing i hate more than over-cooked pasta. i’m wondering what type of pasta you had – was it a linguine, spaghetti? not sure why that would matter, but maybe you should give it another try. we will too and i’ll get back to you with all of this in mind!

    i’m looking at your blog to see if you posted about the batali dish – egg in a nest – you’re totally right that it is a bit too close to the source. ha ha! hope to “read” you again here soon.

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