Seasonal Chef: Peeking Beneath the Surface for Root Vegetables

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I’m taking a little break from squash this week and going underground. Just below the surface of those pretty squash and pumpkins you can find a world unto it’s own: the world of root vegetables. Radish, beet, parsnip, carrot , turnip and rutabaga to name a few. They are a veritable rainbow of color and symphony of flavors. Root vegetables are not only good for you, but good to eat. They can, for the most part, be eaten raw, baked, roasted, fried and pureed. Your preparation of a root vegetable is only limited by your imagination.

I found myself this weekend with several left from my farm share basket two weeks ago. Necessity is the mother of invention as they say, so after a quick review of my Flavor Bible I was happy to see the three I was planning on using had an affinity to ginger.

rutabaga, carrot and parsnip

My three basic ingredients are rutabaga, carrot and parsnip. Rutabaga botanically is a cross between cabbage and turnip. The flavor is milder than a turnip and when cooked they get mellow and creamy. When buying them look for unblemished skins and a nice heaviness. Rutabagas in a produce bag will keep in your crisper bin for up to two week, and through the winter in the freezer.

Back to my root vegetable idea: I decided to combine them all in a nice stew with ginger as the linchpin. The key to this, and many other recipes I share, is prep-prep-prep. Get all the peeling and dicing done first before you start cooking. Life will be so much easier. Guaranteed!

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After a quick saute of the leek, garlic and ginger, add water, the veggies and a little dried chili for a kick.

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To make this “stew” like, without fussing with a roux, I went for a grain blend. Any one will do. I used TruRoots Sprouted Rice Blend for one batch, and a blend of basmati and quinoa for another. What ever you desire. Just keep in mind that your root vegetables will be done in about 15 minutes, so plan accordingly with your grain. If using brown rice for instance you need to hold off adding the root vegetables until the last 15 minutes.

final root vegetable ingredients

Right at the end I added lime juice, apple, basil and some beet greens. (Spinach or kale will work just as well.) The apple adds a little texture and sweetness and the citrus a little tang.

Spiced Root Vegetable Stew

You really can’t go wrong with a nice stew this time of year and it tastes even better the next day. Click here to see my easy recipe for Spiced Root Vegetable Stew.

I’m going to be cooking up this delicious stew on Saturday at the John Jay Homestead Farm Market. Stop by after 11:00 for a taste.

Buon Appetito!

One year ago: Pork and Vegetable Stew
Two years ago: Winter Squash vs. Pumpkin, Part 1

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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