Winter Root Vegetables
They’re not the prettiest produce in the bin but they’re beautiful inside, flavor-wise. Those gnarly, knobby root vegetables, the underground edible portion of a plant, are extremely versatile in cooking and particularly delicious when in season—wintertime, of course.
Roots are some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables in the world with disease fighting and immunity bolstering superpowers. A great source of dietary fiber, these slow burning carbohydrates regulate the blood sugar and digestive system. Extraordinary in their culinary adaptability, roots are a great way to introduce a variety of vegetables to the dinner plate.
Celery root, a knobby brown root that tastes like a cross between celery and parsley, is particularly delicious when roasted. As are parsnips. Resembling large white carrots, they share a pleasantly sweet flavor. But unlike carrots, the parsnip is never eaten raw. Like carrots, that subtle sweetness deepens and develops when roasted. Choose vegetables that feel heavy for their size, firm, and free of gashes and bruises. To prepare parsnips, simply trim the top and bottom and peel with a vegetable peeler, cleaning out any pocked parts of the root.
A cross between cabbage and turnips, the rutabaga possesses a slightly sweet yet earthy taste. The humble rutabaga reigns mighty in the vegetable world for its health benefits. Absorbing its intense nutrients from the soil, the rutabaga is rich in vitamins A, B and C and loaded with antioxidants. Although the skin looks intimidating, it’s quite easy to peel. Trim the tops and bottom and use a sharp vegetable peeler to expose the smooth inner flesh.
Winter vegetables lend themselves beautifully to roasting as they sweeten even more when they caramelize in the oven. As great as they are as the perfect side dish to roasted meats, I prepare more than I need so I can incorporate them into comforting winter dishes such as a risotto or over polenta. A Sunday morning frittata with roasted vegetables is pretty sweet, too.
Caramelized Roasted Root Vegetables
carrots, parsnips, celery root, turnips, rutabaga, onions
12 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fresh rosemary and thyme, chopped, plus more for garnish
1. Peel the vegetables and cut them into 1- to 2-inch chunks. Place them in a baking dish, add the garlic and toss with the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast the vegetables in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes. Continue roasting, stirring and turning the vegetables a time or two for another 20 minutes. Stir in the herbs and cook for another 10 minutes until tender yet crisp around the edges.
3. Remove from the oven and garnish with additional herbs.