Root vegetables that were nurtured by the soil’s nutrients give us continued nourishment throughout the long winter months.
Carrots, turnips, and potatoes may be the mainstay of most root vegetable recipes, but what about trying some of their knobby, nubby cousins, found alongside them in grocery store cases and farmers’ market bins.
The following tips will help you unearth the secrets to cooking with lesser-known roots.
Beets. Raw or roasted, their earthy, sweet flavor far outshines the canned variety. Try them in salads.
Burdock. These long, thin Asian favorites stay crisp after cooking for a texture that’s a lot like water chestnuts. Try them in salads, stir-fries, and sushi rolls.
Carrots. Raw, roasted, boiled or steamed, alone or in stir-fries this root vegetable is a mainstay in every kitchen.
Celery Root. Once peeled, the large knob reveals a creamy white flesh that tastes like a milder, sweeter version of the stalks. Try it in grated slaws and salads, roasted vegetable medleys, soups, stews, and mashed potato recipes.
Daikon radishes. These pale white Asian roots taste a lot like their little red cousin, though they can sometimes be spicier. Try them in salads, stir-fries, and pickle recipes.
Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes. The sweet, artichoke-like flavor of these veggies from the sunflower family gives them their name. Try them in roasted vegetable medleys, stir-fries, or grated and eaten raw in salads.
Jicama It looks like a large, round potato, but jicama’s crisp crunch tastes more like cucumber. Try it in: salads and tacos, or cut into sticks for a snack.
Parsnips Their delicate taste, a cross between carrots and parsley, makes these veggies a cold-weather favorite. Try them in: soups, stews, roasted vegetable medleys, and recipes for mashed potatoes.
Potatoes. Roasted, baked, boiled or fried, alone or in stews and soups this versatile root vegetable is a familiar mainstay.
Rutabagas. With a milder, sweeter flavor and a creamier texture than turnips, rutabagas are a gardener’s favorite because they’re so easy to grow. Try them in: Soups, stews, roasted vegetable medleys, and recipes for mashed potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes. Roasted, baked, boiled or fried, this is a nutritional wonder that is becoming a common addition to our diets.
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder*
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion or 20 pearl onions, peeled
- 5 cups coarsely chopped or sliced veggies of your choice; turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, carrot, potato, yams, beets or golden beets.
Preheat oven to 425º. Toss veggies and onions with the olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking pan. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, then remove and re-toss on baking sheet. Cook 15 minutes more. Toss again. Cook another 15 min. Combine maple syrup, Dijon mustard and garlic powder or crushed garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle the maple mixture over potatoes and veggies and mix to coat well. Cook again until veggies (beets and potatoes will take the longest) are soft and glaze starts to caramelize and brown a bit. Yields 6 servings.
Recipe courtesy of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association. More recipes are available at vermontmaple.org