We’ve reached that time of year when winter’s star vegetables are wearing out their welcome. Parsnips? Been there. Turnips? Done that. Potatoes, mashed, hashed, roasted or fried?
Check, check, check, yawn.
In short, it’s time to start mixing it up a bit in the root vegetable department.
“With root vegetables, they’re all basically kind of sweet, and they all have similar dense textures, so they’re very easily compatible with one another,” says Deborah Madison, author of the award-winning “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.”
“Roasted root vegetables are great because they stay distinct. Rutabagas would be lovely cooked with potatoes that you’re going to mash because it would give (them) this delicate yellow color – and the flavor would be lovely, too.”
Soups such as roasted Jerusalem artichoke bisque with a touch of potato and leek are a good starting point, Madison says.
“You roast (turnips, carrots or Jerusalem artichokes) and their flavors concentrate so much and you get a little caramelization – and then go ahead and put them in a soup.”
Looking to enliven the humble mash? Consider celery root.
“Potatoes make a great base, but then when you add celery root, maybe a little bit of celery too – it gives it a freshness and a pale green color, and maybe stir in some minced celery leaves at the end,” says Madison.
“Potatoes with any of these vegetables are really good. With parsnips. With turnips. Beets you’d want to be wary of because it would make a horrible color.”
On the salad front, Madison advocates mixes ranging from the traditional to the unexpected.
“Rutabagas have this lovely, buttery yellow, and turnips stay so white and then you have carrots, which are orange,” says Madison.
“I cut all of those into a julienne, and I just blanch them and toss them with olive oil, lemon, just a little chopped parsley. Things you have around. And it looks like spring! You just look at it and it makes you happy.”
As a general rule, vegetables that are in season together taste good together, and that certainly goes for the roots, Madison says.
They also mix well with Brussels sprouts and cabbages.
She recently went through her refrigerator, pulled out the root vegetables she had on hand – beets, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, celery root, that stray parsnip – diced them, tossed them with olive oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper, and roasted them.
“Oh! They were so good. They’re kind of irresistible. If you have some rosemary or herbs, even better,” she says.
Roasted Root Vegetables
2 or 3 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut into large chunks
1 russet potato or several fingerlings, cut into chunks
1 onion, cut into thick wedges with root end intact
1 head garlic, cloves separated
1 turnip, peeled, cut into wedges
1 large parsnip, peeled, cut into 2-inch rounds, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place vegetables in a large, shallow baking dish or sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat.
Roast, turning every 15 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized (golden brown) and tender when pierced with a knife, 45-55 minutes.
Notes: This is plenty for two and maybe more. Vegetables do shrink as they roast and the moisture cooks off. Adapted from “What We Eat When We Eat Alone,” by Deborah Madison.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 357 calories, 34 percent of calories from fat, 14 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 56 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 641 mg sodium, 9 g fiber