They can be added to salads or main casseroles. Some can be served raw, but all are delicious roasted, baked, braised or sautéed. They make delicious soups.
Root veggies are some of the most versatile around; some (like ginger) can even be made into cookies and drinks!
Tips, Ideas and a Recipe
There’s a lot of vitamin A in one cup of cooked butternut squash-450%!
Use an ice cream scoop to scrape the seeds from squash to pumpkins.
To roast pumpkin seeds, toss with oil, garlic and onion powder, salt and cayenne pepper.
Bake at 375 (degrees) F for 20 minutes.
Squash can be difficult to work with, due to its tough exterior, unwieldy size and bumpy texture. Here’s an easier way to go about it:
Cut into wedges.
Drizzle with maple syrup.
Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake at 400 (degrees) until tender.
The skin will peel off easily (you’ll now have tender enough squash for a recipe or to eat alongside beef, pork or chicken).
Diane Morgan is a root veggie expert. In fact, her latest cookbook is named Roots: The Definite Compendium (Chronicle Books, $40) and she’s at www.dianemorgancooks.com.
Here are two of her ideas:
For something different, try roasting radishes or having a baked sweet potato for breakfast. There’s no one way or a certain time to eat a root.
Buy roots with their tops attached, especially carrots and beets. The greens are delicious as is. Remove and store separately in the fridge.
Yucca-Don’t eat this raw (it’s unsafe!). Otherwise, it has a subtly sweet flavor and makes super crispy fries (due to the high starch content).
Salsify (or oyster plant, because of its faint briny flavor) is a spindly root that can be a replacement for carrots. Once peeled, submerge it in lemon-water to prevent browning.
Jerusalem artichokes (or sun chokes)-These are small, knobby-looking roots that can be eaten raw or cooked. With a crisp texture and nutty flavor, they’ll go well in salads or with roasted meats.
“Pepitas” and Another Recipe
I’ve just found out a week ago (to my great amusement) that pepitas are currently a “hot” item in cooking (particularly Mexican), adding flavor to everything from soups, salads and sauces to meat and even dessert toppings! What are pepitas? They’re the inner kernels that lie within the outer coating of the pumpkin seed.
Why was I greatly amused? Because while growing up in Chicago, “pepitas” were a very popular kids’ item (sold alongside candy), known simply as pumpkin seeds! You would buy a box filled with small, white dry pumpkin seeds. You would then place the pumpkin seeds in your mouth and proceed to suck them, for a minute or so, getting this initial salty taste. The seeds would then turn greenish-brown, which meant they were ready to eat. You would then peel away the thin coat and chew to produce a taste very similar to fresh peanuts. Delicious!
Here’s a recipe from Diane Morgan that features a mixture of root veggies: “Roasting is one of the easiest, most delicious ways to try out a new vegetable. Follow the recipe once or twice and then find ways to make it your own. Change the herbs, add a vinaigrette, or top the vegetables with a poached or fried egg for a complete meal.”
Medley of Roasted Root Vegetables
3 lbs assorted root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, beets, fingerling or new potatoes, celery root, turnips, rutabagas and Jerusalem artichokes), peeled and cut into even-size chunks
8 shallots, halved lengthwise
¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs chopped fresh herbs such as thyme, parsley, dill, rosemary and/or sage
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 400 (degrees) F.
2. In a large roasting pan or baking dish, gently toss the veggies and shallots with oil, herbs, salt and pepper.
Roast, uncovered, stirring once or twice, until the veggies are fork-tender and browned, about 45 minutes.
Serve immediately, or cover and keep up to 1 hour before serving.
Makes 6 servings
This dish can be made ahead of time, up to 1 day in advance.
Cover and refrigerate.
Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
Repeat in a 350 (degrees) F oven until hot, about 20 min.
Work time: 30 min.
Roast time: 45 min.
Sources: “Good Roots” by Hali Ramdene-Better Homes and Gardens, Oct. 2013 and “This and That”-Relish magazine, Oct. 2013