If you turn on the Food Network or read a cooking blog in October and November, chances are you will see someone waxing poetic about root vegetables. The rest of the year they’re ignored, but come Halloween it’s all about the tubers. So what are root vegetables and how can you use them? Well hang Rockheads, because I’m going to tell you all about it.
What Are Root Vegetables?
By definition root vegetables are the starchy tubers, the underground stem, and taproots of plants. You’ll find root vegetables recipes all over the world: Japan, Korea, France, India, and America. They give the plant the nourishment it needs to grow. That means that when we eat them, we get all those vitamins and minerals. They are full of complex carbohydrates; these give us energy without causing large swings in blood sugar. They’re also a great source of fiber, helping to maintain regularity in our digestive system. Fiber makes us feel full so it can help with weight control. Some of the vitamins and minerals they’re packed with are beta-carotene and vitamin C, B-vitamins, potassium, and iron. Here are some examples, I’m sure you’re heard of them: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, or beets.
So How Do I Use Them?
There are a variety of ways to prepare root vegetables. You can braise, grill, mash, bake, or use them in a soup or salad. The most common way to prepare them is roasting though. Here’s an easy recipe for roasted root vegetables by famous chef Wolfgang Puck. If you’re going to use potatoes, go to your local farmer’s market. New healthier types of potatoes are being developed, but they’re not available in most grocery stores.
Roasted Root Vegetable Medley
Recipe by Wolfgang Puck via Food Network
- 8 to 12 slender carrots, peeled and trimmed
- 8 to 12 baby turnips, peeled
- 6 to 8 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise in halves
- 1 or 2 large parsnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
- 1 or 2 medium onions, trimmed, peeled and halved, each 1/2 cut into quarters
- 1 or 2 large beets, peeled and cut into thick wedges
- 1 or 2 turnips, peeled and cut into thick wedges
- 1 celery root, trimmed and halved, halves cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices
- 1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
- 2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Put all the vegetables and the herb sprigs in a large baking dish. Season well with salt and black pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss them with your hands to coat them evenly.
Put the baking dish in the preheated oven and cook, stirring the vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve the vegetables from their baking dish or transfer them to a platter to accompany a roasted main course.
For more information about fall vegetables, check out this guide from About.com
And check out this video from Clean Eating Magazine on how to clean root vegetables and incorporate them into your diet!