While most people don’t have root cellars these days, storing hearty winter vegetables in a cool space is still a good idea—root veggies will keep for a long time in the fridge or basement, and they’re in season!
The benefits of root vegetables goes beyond their heartiness and low cost. They bring plenty of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to your plate, and they taste delicious in a variety of recipes.
The name “root vegetables” comes directly from how the plants are grown—their bulk grows beneath the soil, literally as the tubers or roots of the plants. They tend to be heavier, solid vegetables that get their nourishing qualities due to their role: they store energy and nutrition for the greens that grow above the soil.
Root veggies also make a viable substitute for grain, as a high-fiber source of complex carbs that hold up to many cooking methods, including the use of spiral peelers to make “noodles” from them.
Roots That Rock
Carrots: Carrots are a popular vegetable in many cuisines. They taste great raw as well as cooked or even juiced. Their bright orange color signals certain health properties called carotenoids (you might have heard of beta carotene). These are antioxidants that help protect eye and skin health.
Sweet Potatoes: Highly versatile root veggies, sweet potatoes are a favorite in modern American cooking. These potatoes actually do taste sweet, but even so, they score lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes (less impact on blood sugar). They also supply a lot of vitamin A and potassium.
Turnips: Some might be familiar with turnip greens, the healthful leaves of the turnip plant that grow above the ground. But below the surface turnips store potassium and antioxidants for us to enjoy. Turnips have a hearty, strong flavor—chefs like to pick the smaller ones which tend to taste sweeter.
Parsnips: A parsnip looks like a big, pale carrot, and tastes a bit like another cousin, celeriac. Parsnips are mild, but they get even milder if allowed to stay in the ground until frost. Many people enjoy the creamy flavor of parsnips mashed, like potatoes. They are a good source of vitamin C and manganese.
Rutabagas: Often overlooked compared to the other winter veggies, the humble rutabaga brings a source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese to the table, along with a distinct flavor somewhere between a mild turnip and cabbage. Rutabagas hold up well to herbs and to long roasts in the oven.
Roasted Root Veggie Mix with Herbs
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 2 small turnips, peeled and cubed
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut in ½” rounds
- 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut in ½” rounds
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T. fresh chopped thyme
- 1 T. fresh chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until vegetables are evenly coated with oil and herbs. Roast on a baking sheet for 35 – 50 minutes, until fork tender and beginning to caramelize.