Root Vegetables

Autumn and winter are wonderful seasons to start incorporating more root vegetables into recipes. Root vegetables are packed with many important vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. I don’t know about you, but although I love the different root vegetables and I know how nutritious they are, I find it difficult sometimes figuring out what to do with them.

One of my favorite ways to eat root vegetables is to roast them. I take a large roasting pan and fill it with chopped parsnips, carrots, onions and sweet potatoes. I then drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the vegetables, mix together so the veggies are coated, then sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on top. I roast the veggies in the oven at about 375 degrees F for about an hour or until nicely roasted. This makes a tasty, nutrient-rich dish that can be served as a side to fish, chicken or turkey, used as a snack, or put in salads.
Of the root vegetables, the two that I have the most difficulty fitting into recipes are rutabagas and turnips. I was quite happy when I came across the article, ‘Learning to love the unlovely.’ (click the link). This article specifically discusses turnips and rutabagas and ways in which to use them. I found the following points particularly relevant:
  • Turnips are excellent roasted–just peel the skin and cut the turnip into quarters. As described above, drizzle in a little olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper on top and roast in the oven.
  • Turnips can be eaten raw–you can slice or cube them and put them in salads to add a nice crunchy texture and a sweet, peppery flavor.
  • Turnips can also be baked, sauteed or steamed.
  • Larger turnips have a stronger flavor than the smaller turnips.
  • The strong flavor of turnips can be reduced by blanching them in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
  • Overcooking should be avoided, because it brings out the turnip’s strong flavor.
  • Don’t forget about the turnip greens–these are very nice when sauteed in a little olive oil or non-stick cooking spray with some garlic. Add some cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick. The turnip greens are packed with vitamins K, A and C as well as manganese and fiber.
  • Like turnips, rutabagas are excellent roasted. For a falvorful recipe of rutabaga, sweet onions, and honey, check out the article mentioned above.
  • Rutabagas are often peeled and cubed in preparation for cooking.
  • Rutabagas can be paired with other root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, and put in dishes like casseroles.
  • They can be boiled, steamed, baked, mashed or pureed. They make a wonderful addition to soups and stews.
  • Their hearty flavor complements other strong flavors like pork, duck or spicy dishes.
  • The flavors that work best with rutabagas include: basil, dill, rosemary, thyme, ginger, cloves, and orange or lemon juice.
Root vegetables are a great way to get energy as well as pack in some important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. So add some roasted root vegetables to your next home-cooked meal.
Rachel Cope MPH, RC, CD