ColumnDon’t let the boredom of root vegetables set in.
There’s that time around October, when the last of the late summer harvest has come to an end, the days are getting a bit colder, and you’re so looking forward to winter cooking. The cozy soups, the warm mugs of cider.
And then February rolls around. You’ve put up with several months of winter and if someone offers you yet another meal of roasted root vegetables you might just bash them over the head with a turnip. It’s gray outside, probably raining – or maybe you’ve got some of that nasty, wet snow slush – and you’re cranky, haven’t seen sunlight for at least a week. Quite frankly all you can do is dream of a brighter time when stone fruits were in season and all you had to do to make dinner was slice a tomato and drizzle olive oil over it.
I feel your pain. The CSA vegetables come every Monday and it’s hard to get myself to think, “oh great, carrots! Whatever will I do with them this week?”
But if you have committed to eating more locally, and in season, then culinary boredom is something you just have to force yourself to work past.
Bored of root vegetables? We just need to think out of the box of the usual winter dish of roasted potatoes. In order to help you avoid seasonal depression this winter, here are a few tips to help you endure root vegetable season.
Go for the lesser known, possible more boring, root vegetables
When was the last time anyone announced that rutabagas were the New Kale? Let’s just go ahead and change that now. You need to dive deep and buy up all those seemingly boring root vegetables? Why? Because it will push you out of your culinary comfort zone. Because I had no other idea of what to do with them, last week I put an abundance of turnips to use in a Dutch Baby recipe. Paired with apples, it was delicious. A few nights later i sliced them thinly and threw into a batch of nachos. Because, why not? Let 2015 be the Year of Turnips, Rutabaga and Parsnips. Because the boring root vegetables deserve your love too.
Do more than just roast
Roasting root vegetables is the go-to cooking method because it’s so easy. Drizzle in olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper, maybe even some dried rosemary or thyme, put in the oven and take out when finished. But there is so much more that you can do with root vegetables. Sauté, steam, puree, or blanch. Cut them thinly and throw on a pizza. Make fritters. Or even eat them raw; I’m looking at you, beets.
Break out of the savory box
Because of their deep, often sweet flavor, root vegetables can be used in sweet dishes just as well as they can savory ones. Spiced parsnip cake, turnip muffins, carrot halwa, an Indian dessert made with carrots and cardamom; the options are endless.
Make fries with something other than potatoes
In winter we crave comfort food, and what better comfort food than the good ol’ fry? But potatoes are your only fry option. You can make them with sweet potatoes, celery root, rutabaga, carrots and more.
Get to pickling
An easy way to switch up the flavor of root vegetables is to lightly pickle them. A nice salt brine with some spices and you are good to go, never to be bored by a root vegetable again.
Related on EcoSalon
This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’ weekly column at EcoSalon: Foodie Underground, an exploration of what’s new and different in the underground movement, and how we make the topic of good food more accessible to everyone. More musings on the topic can be found at www.foodieunderground.com.
Image: Chris Martino