Family Farm

Family Farm

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Eating Root Vegetables

What are root vegetables?

“There was a time when the only root vegetables anyone paid attention to were carrots and potatoes. Turnips were déclassé, celeriac unheard of, beets a pain to clean. The perception has changed, in part because it was all wrong; in part because if you’re going to eat seasonal and local, you are going to eat roots in winter, even if you live in California; and in part because roasted root vegetables are, like, the greatest thing ever, and even the company cafeteria can’t ruin them.” – Mark Brittman, NY Times

Benefits of eating root vegetables

I believe in eating what’s in season in order to give my body the vitamins it needs during each part of the year and to keep grocery costs low. This works out nicely, since during the summer I crave light, crisp fruits and vegetables, and in the winter months I often crave a warm, hearty meal containing root vegetables.
This winter I have tried to fill the fridge and pantry with as many root vegetables as I have room for because they are in season, taste delicious, and keep very well if I don’t eat them right away. Some root vegetables will keep for months if stored properly. These (usually) very inexpensive vegetables have tremendous health benefits because they grow underneath the ground, allowing them to absorb many nutrients and minerals available in the soil.

List of root vegetables

I think root vegetables are the underdogs of the grocery store. They’re dirty, ugly, and often ignored in the produce aisle. However, they deserve a fair shot on your table just like the popular, clean vegetables you invite regularly to your meals. Here is a list of root vegetables we have had on our table over the past few years:
  • Beet
  • Carrot
  • Celeriac (a.k.a. Celery Root)
  • Onion
  • Parsnip
  • Potato
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Sweet Potato
  • Turnip.
This may not sound like a very appetizing list of vegetables, but trust me, it’s all about how they are prepared!
Matt and I have been playing around with root vegetables this past week, and have come up with some tasty dishes we’d like to share. We had celery root in the fridge that we couldn’t wait to eat. This has to be one of the ugliest vegetables on the planet! It looks like a hairy bulb, and it might turn you off at first, but the taste is so rich and unique… I challenge you to add it to your grocery cart!

Mashed celeriac & potatoes

  • 1 large celery root
  • 8 medium yellow potatoes
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup sour cream or kefir.
Peel celery root and dice into cubes. Wash potatoes and dice (we leave peels on). Add both to a large stockpot of boiling water and boil for 10-12 minutes. Drain vegetables and return to pot. Add butter and mash until butter is melted. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. (Add a little fresh grated parmesan cheese on top for an extra nutty flavor.)
Matt and I were offered a free turnip at the farmer’s market a few days ago and wanted to try it raw as the farmer suggested. It’s a beautiful vegetable that neither of us had ever eaten. I’ll admit, I was a bit scared when the farmer described it as a cross between a radish and a rutabaga, but Matt worked his magic and created a tasty little side dish.

Turnip Salad

  • 1 large turnip (peeled and sliced into thin pieces)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of fresh or dried basil (or thyme).
Toss all ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator for one hour or overnight. Add some chopped green onion or fresh diced tomato for a different spin on the salad.

More benefits of root vegetables

My cold winter bones are warmed with thoughts of all the delicious ways root vegetables can be prepared. They would be delicious roasted, grilled, or braised. They can be made into soups, gratins, hash browns, fries, or root vegetable chips. (I feel some more cooking projects coming on!)
How do you incorporate root vegetables into your winter diet and what are your favorite ways to prepare them?
photo credit Yunhee Kim of NY Times

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