The fresh green lettuces of spring and the hearty heirloom tomatoes of summer are just a distant memory. Here in the heart of midwinter, it’s time to put root vegetables front-and-center. “There are so many great root vegetables at this time of year, like parsnips, beets, yucca, salsify and kohlrabi,” says Robin Asbell, chef and author of many cookbooks, most recently Great Bowls of Food: Grain Bowls, Buddha Bowls, Broth Bowls, and More. “They’re readily available, inexpensive, and they’re good keepers. And they’re on trend with health-conscious diners who are avoiding white starches—like French fries—but still want a satisfying side or entrée.”
Preparations of root vegetables can include sautéing, roasting and pickling, but Asbell is especially fond of making them into purees. “It’s a great way to fill up on what feels and tastes like comfort food, but is really a good-for-you alternative,” she says. Spiralizing is another great way to serve sweeter roots like beets or carrots. “I’ve been adding them to pasta right at the end of cooking time, and serving a dish that’s half noodle, half veggie.” And if you’re embracing the “root-to-tip” dining movement, you can pair your root vegetables dishes with their own greens, steamed or sautéed in olive oil.
The wide world of roots
“Parsnips are one of my favorite root vegetables,” she says. “I find turnips can have some bitterness and rutabagas sometimes have a little funk, but parsnips are so purely sweet, with no bitterness.” She recently had a meal that included salsify fries with creamy yogurt dip. “They call it [salsify] the vegetable oyster, because it’s supposed to taste like oysters, and the fries really were delicious.”
Yucca is another less well-known root vegetable. Also known as cassava, it looks something like a sweet potato. “It’s another root that needs to be boiled first, because you can’t fry it to doneness,” Asbell says. “It’s delicious as an alternative to white potatoes, served with garlic butter or chimichurri sauce.” Kohlrabi is another interesting root vegetable that Asbell appreciates for its ability to remain crisp. “If you have carb-conscious diners, you can serve thin slivers with hummus or another dip as an appetizer or side dish.”
T. Marzetti™ tip
Marzetti® dressings or sauces make terrific accompaniments to your root vegetable specials, or try them layered on Flatout® Flatbreads as the base for appetizers or entrées.