It’s Root Vegetable Season

Lately I have been uninspired and bored even with all the regular, normal ways I prepare my wonderful organic veggies for dinner. I am forever and constantly wracking my brain for ideas.  I just happened to pull open the door of my fridge the other day, and what to my wondering eyes did appear but a whole bunch of fresh root vegetables staring right back, just asking to be made into something awesome.  “Make me a stew, roast me, make me a chili, make me into a shepherd’s pie.”  They all started talking to me at once suggesting a myriad of ways to get them from the fridge and into my tummy.  Truly a revelation from my icebox.  Ok, so veggies don’t really talk, but they did spark some conversation between my brain and my stomach. Some research and a few cookbooks later and I have a list of things you can do with those amazing root vegetables when the want for something better comes to mind.

BRAISED ROOT VEGETABLES

An easy and very tasty way to prepare any combination of root vegetables, this is a crowd pleaser as well.

  • Scrub or peel any root vegetables on hand and cut them into medium-sized, bite-sized pieces.
  • Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, the root vegetables and sprinkle with salt.
  • Pour in 1/2 to 1 cup of vegetable or chicken broth. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until vegetables are tender and starting to brown, about 20 minutes.
  • Add fresh herbs just before serving such as – rosemary, thyme, or parsley. A mix of herbs make good combinations too, for a bit variety.

BARBECUED ROOT VEGETABLES

Root vegetables aren’t the first thing most people think to put on the BBQ, but they are so delicious when cooked over an open flame. They develop a crusty exterior and  a  sweet, tender fluffy inside.

  • Grill small root vegetables whole. Thickly slice or cut in half bigger root vegetables. Brush them liberally with vegetable or olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and cook on a meidum-hot grill until grill-marked and tender, about 10 minutes per side.
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice over top just before serving makes a wonderful taste.

ROOT VEGETABLE FRIES

Cutting root vegetables into sticks and frying or baking them works best with the starchier root vegetables like turnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes. 

  • Peel vegetables and cut them into sticks.
  • Soak cut vegetables in cold water for half an hour.
  • Pat vegetables thoroughly dry.
  • To fry: Heat oil to 325 – 375. Fry vegetables in small batches until tender and browned. Drain on a cooling rack or paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
  • To bake: Toss vegetables with a small amount of vegetable oil to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 425 until tender and browned, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

MASHED ROOT VEGETABLES

Mashed potatoes are well known, as are mashed sweet potatoes, but other root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, and carrots are also delicious mashed – either on their own or in combination with the more traditional potato.

  • Peel root vegetables and cut into large, even chunks. Put them in a pot and cover with cold water.
  • Bring to a boil. Add salt. Cook until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Drain thoroughly, and return vegetables to the pot over low heat.
  • Mash well with a potato masher or large fork. Add cream, butter, milk, or buttermilk to make mixture fluffy and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

OVEN ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES

This is by far my most popular method.  I love to roast any and all vegetables. I choose potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, even whole tiny onions or whole cloves of garlic. Roasting brings out the essential sweetness in the root vegetables and creates a crispy brown exterior that’s always welcomed, plus it’s so easy. 

  • Scrub vegetables clean; peel if you like.
  • Cut vegetables into uniform bite-sized pieces.
  • Toss vegetables with enough olive oil, vegetable oil, or melted butter to lightly but evenly coat them.
  • Put vegetables in a roasting or baking pan, sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, chopped hearty herbs like rosemary, or spices such as chili powder or paprika to taste.
  • Roast in a hot oven of about 425 degrees until vegetables are tender and browned, about 40 minutes.
  • You can roast vegetables with chicken or  meat, just add them to the pan about half an hour before you expect the meat to be cooked.

ROOT VEGETABLE GRATIN

Root vegetables lend themselves perfectly to being thinly sliced, layered, and baked until tender. Gratins can be elegant side dishes or a casual weeknight dinner.

  • Peel root vegetables and slice them thinly as you would for scalloped potatoes.
  • Layer vegetables in a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cheese every layer or two.
  • Pour in a cup of broth, cream, or half-and-half if you like.
  • Top gratin with freshly shredded cheese, chopped almonds, or fresh bread crumbs.
  • Bake at 375 until tender and browned, 45 minutes to an hour.

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