Roots are the ugly duckling of the produce section. They lack the vibrant colors and smooth shapes of vegetables that grow in the sun. If they were girls, they’d be unkempt and homely with crooked teeth, bad hair, and ugly clothes. Most people eat carrots, potatoes, and onions. Many never give the others a second glance. Here, I give you THE recipe for seeing the inner beauty of parsnips, rutabagas, leeks, sweet potatoes, turnips, and even the pitiful looking celery root. Beets will work too.
Roots are treasure troves of vitamins and complex carbohydrates. When you roast them, all of their natural starch turns into sugar which caramelizes the outside and tastes sweet. Inside, roasting concentrates their natural savory flavors. This accomplishment requires very little from the cook: just toss with olive oil and roast.
This particular recipe, with a flavor base of garlic, olive oil, and lemon, is Mediterranean. It calls for a mixture of onions, leeks, celery root, turnips and potatoes, but you can substitute whatever you have on hand. It’s an easy side to roasted or grilled meat, and the flavor is out of this world.
Serves 6, but this recipe is easily cut in half or doubled
2-3 medium carrots
1 lb celery root
1 lb white turnips
3-4 red or yukon gold potatoes
2 medium onions, sliced thin
2 leeks, sliced thin
6-8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh or 2 tsp dried herbs, finely chopped (parsley, rosemary, thyme, or sage)
1 dried red chili pepper, crushed (optional)
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. PREP ROOTS: Preheat oven to 450. Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a roasting pan to grease it so the vegetables won’t stick. Peel all roots and cut into chunks about 1-11/2 inches. This can be done ahead of time. Feel free to substitute other winter roots like parsnips or sweet potatoes.
2. TOSS EVERYTHING TOGETHER AND ROAST: Toss all of the ingredients together in a large roasting pan. Roast 20 minutes. Toss. Roast another 20 minutes. Toss. The vegetables should be done or close to it. Roast another 10-15 minutes if needed. Vegetables should be tender and lightly browned.
Peace and love from my kitchen to yours,