12 December 2011

What Lies Beneath

So root vegetables aren’t the sexiest of vegetables. Why, I don’t know; sometimes they’re round and blushing with a tinge of purple. Maybe they call to mind an era of the poor suffering bland boiled fare.

Sure, this overlooked lot lacks the caché of blatantly vibrant bell peppers or the lacy frill of frisée or cunning charm of an artichoke.

But root vegetables are willing to collaborate like the best culinary team, each bringing their own flavor to the mix. They’re indiscriminate and willing to hang out with one another as long as they’re doused in a good amount of olive oil and dash or two of salt and pepper. Throw in an herb like thyme or rosemary and it’s as though you’ve tossed some mistletoe into a drunken holiday party.

But that’s not all, this mélange won’t be too hungover to party again the next day. Here’s my twofer root vegetable recipe.

Day #1:

Coarsely chop into half-inch or larger cubes any or all of the following (rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, celery root, carrots, sunchokes). Add coarsely chopped onion, and a few whole garlic cloves don’t hurt either. Toss in a bowl with a good amount of olive oil and some salt, pepper and herbs.

You can also try an Indian flavoring with turmeric, cumin and coriander or cardamom.

Roast on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for half hour or longer till tender and golden brown, shaking the sheet partway through or tossing the vegetables with a spatula to ensure they get evenly browned. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve alongside meat, fish or greens.

Day #2:

Take the leftovers and puree in a blender with water or vegetable stock and heat in a pan. And now you have soup for lunch or dinner! Great with a salad and a nice chunk of bread.

Root vegetables are true comfort food to carry you through your winter blues, and no slight to potatoes, they are far more interesting.