Know Your Roots!
I know you’ve seen them in the produce aisle and given them the side-eye as you walk by. They’re gnarly and a little intimidating with their strange dusty skin, protruding knobs, growths, hairy extensions, and leaves. Real talk, they’re weird looking. However, instead of giving them the side-eye, the next time you’re at the store or farmer's market, give roots a chance!
Root vegetables are the cinderella of the vegetable world, they don’t get as much play as the leafy greens and they look a little dusty. That’s character! Once you put a little magic on them they are beautiful and tasty!
They’re gnarly and a little intimidating with their strange dusty skin, protruding knobs, growths, hairy extensions, and leaves
Roots come in a rainbow of colors from golden hues, deep reds, royal purples, to candy cane stripes. Roots have dope names like Red Ace, Cylindra, Ruby Queen, Sugar, Avalanche, Papa Doc, Watermelon, Cherry Belle, and French Breakfast. Root flavors range from earthy, to spicy, to sugary sweet, to a combination of all three.
Not only do roots taste good but they are good for you. Roots are some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables because they grow underground soaking up all the nutrients in the earth. These underground beauties can contain a concentrated cocktail of things like antioxidants, vitamins C, B, A, and iron. They can help cleanse your system, help with digestion, are anti-inflammatory, and so much more. These are some bad (meaning good) vegetables!
These underground beauties can contain a concentrated cocktail of things like antioxidants, vitamins C, B, A, and iron.
Back in the day people stored their root vegetables in a root cellar. Today, you don’t have to worry about a root cellar. For tuber roots like potatoes and sweet potatoes or true roots like onion, garlic, or ginger, store them in a dark and cool place that has good ventilation. For true roots (e.g. radish beets, carrots, celeriac, etc) you can keep them in the refrigerator unwashed, green tops chopped off, put in a paper or plastic bag, and keep on the lowest shelf or crisper drawer. Except for beets, I also pop a damp paper towel in my plastic bag to help create a little humidity and keep them crisp. If root vegetables are stored in the fridge uncovered, they’ll start turning soft.
Roots are super versatile in the kitchen as well. You can use the greens, like on your beets, like kale, chard, or spinach and for the actual roots you can roast them, sauté, braise, mash, puree, boil, fry, or eat them raw. There are so many root vegetables to choose from but for this series, I will focus on some of my faves like onion, garlic, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, carrots, radish, beets, ginger.
Are you ready to know your roots? Let's take a trip to the underground and kick this off with a simple recipe for creamy mashed rutabaga and potatoes!