Botany distinguishes among taproots, tubers, rhizomes, and corms, but they’re all essentially bundles of energy that mature under the soil. Though we often bemoan the lack of vegetable variety during the winter months, the rich bounty of the root cellar sustains us until the first tender sprouts of spring.
Read on for my recipe for Winter Vegetable Pan Roast.
Photography by Laura Silverman for Gardenista.
Above: The humble carrot, often a supporting player, takes center stage in a brilliant soup that’s an antidote to a gray winter’s day. Mine is especially warming and spicy because it’s loaded with fresh ginger. Small cups garnished with a crunchy crouton make an excellent amuse-bouche before the big feast.
Above: Raw, the carrot offers a welcome crunch. It softens slightly more when grated, as in this addictive salad that is bright with lemon juice and mint, spicy with harissa, and enriched with lots of crumbled feta.
Above: Roasting really brings out roots’ sweetness. Marinate whole carrots in orange juice, garlic, and cumin, then leave them in a hot oven until they caramelize. Serve these in a composed salad with slices of buttery avocado, arugula, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a dressing made with roasted citrus–a tribute to the hugely popular dish served at ABC Kitchen in Manhattan.
Above: Like most root vegetables, beets will keep for a long time in the refrigerator or a cool, dry cellar. Bake them, unpeeled and set in a covered casserole with just a little water, until they are easily pierced with a fork. Rinse them under running water and the skins will slip right off.
Above: Roasted beets combine well with soft, mild cheeses, citrus, and nut oils. Try mixing beet cubes with ricotta salata, segments of blood orange, and hazelnut oil. They’re also delicious with a piquant horseradish vinaigrette.
Above: Sunchokes, also know, as Jerusalem artichokes–derived from girasole, Italian for sunflower–have a watery crispness and a sweet, nutty flavor. They can be boiled or steamed, or eaten raw in paper-thin slices.
Above: I like to toss them with sesame oil, soy sauce, scallions, garlic, and sesame seeds, then roast them until they’re tender and lightly browned. Eat them hot with a fluffy pile of brown rice or at room temperature with soba noodles, shredded cabbage, and pickled ginger.
Above: Have you come across parsley root at your local farmers’ market? Wonderful in soups and stews, it also can be served fresh in salads, or even fried. Its delicate, slightly sweet flavor has hints of celery and turnip that pair well with barley, potatoes, beets, and beef.
Above: The cold weather makes us crave hearty, starchy foods, and potatoes fit the bill. We grew these Cranberry Reds, whose skin and flesh is an almost shocking pink. Roasting really enhances their sweet earthiness.
Above: Root vegetables have an affinity for each other and you can’t go wrong with almost any combination. Cut them into uniformly sized pieces so they will cook at the same rate. Then douse them with good olive oil, shower them with sea salt, and add your favorite spices–I love a fruity chile, like aleppo or urfa biber. Roast until irresistibly ready.
Winter Vegetable Pan Roast
- 4 cups root vegetables (potatoes, sunchokes, celeriac, parsnips, beets, carrots, etc.)
- 2 red onions, peeled and cut into slim wedges
- 4 small shallots, peeled
- 4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 or 2 teaspoons ground chile, like aleppo or urfa biber
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or foil.
Peel the root vegetables, if desired, and cut them into chunks of roughly the same size (about 2 inches). Place in a large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients. Spread on prepared pan in a single layer and roast until very tender and caramelized, about an hour, turning with a spatula once or twice. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with more olive oil and salt, as needed.
N.B.: For more of Laura’s recipes, visit Glutton for Life.
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