A note suggested that they might be best roasted, and that their main winter-storage claim to fame may be that they aren’t at all sweet. Since, like every aspiring Vermont winter localvore, I’m craving variety this time of year, in the bag they went, where they joined beets, rutabaga, turnips, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips. And met up with more of the same at home.
There were a lot of them, and something had to be done.
You may know that I think that roasting is one of the very nicest things you can do to a vegetable. It intensifies flavor and caramelizes sugars, and can be done to just about everything (not leafy vegetables, generally). Plus it’s a good straight-forward way for a lazy cook like me to end up with some building blocks and variety for the meals of the coming week.
Facing off with the pile of roots and squashes, I decided to roast beets by themselves, butternut squash by itself, and then do a savory tray (potatoes, salsify, rutabaga) flavored with miso, and a sweet tray (carrots, parsnips, turnips) just plain with olive oil and salt.
My approach is a bit convoluted, but not at all fussy. The goal is to let everything cook for as long as it needs, while being in the kitchen as little as possible.
Here’s how I did it. Of course, use what you’ve got and make it how you want it. Maybe you’re planning Italian food and would do garlic and some oregano instead of miso for a savory variety, or want to throw onions onto either tray, or toss them with some teriyaki sauce. Go for it.
A Trio of Roast Roots, Plus Squash
1. Preheat oven to 400. Oil three rimmed baking sheets, and get out one baking dish with an oven-proof, snug-fitting lid. Get out two large mixing bowls and set aside.
- Wash but don’t peel (isn’t this fabulous?) as many beets as can fit in your lidded baking dish in one layer. Put on the lid and put them in the oven (it’s okay if it hasn’t preheated all the way). They will need to cook the longest, one-two hours depending on size.
3. Savory Miso-Roasted Roots
Prepare the salsify:
- Put 2 T. lemon juice into a medium bowl and add water nearly to top
- With the lemon-water right at hand, peel and slice 3-4 salsify roots crosswise into chunks about 1 1/2″ long and put immediately into the water bowl to prevent discoloration.
Put it all together by placing in one of the large mixing bowls:
- 2-3 large potatoes, scrubbed, peel left on, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
- 1 rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
- the salsify, drained well
- 2 T. miso paste
- 2 T. olive oil
Mix thoroughly with your hands, then spread the whole thing out on one of the baking sheets and set aside.
- 3-4 carrots, scrubbed, peels left on, cut into 1 1/2″ – 2″ chunks crosswise
- 3-4 parsnips, scrubbed, peels left on, cut into 1 1/2″ – 2′ chunks crosswise
- 1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1/2 t. kosher salt
Mix thoroughly with your hands, then spread the whole thing out on one of the baking sheets.
Put both baking sheets in the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice if you think of it. They’re done when a fork easily pierces a chunk. The carrots and turnips are the slowest cookers here, so they’re good ones to test.
5. Butternut Squash
Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and put them in a colander. Put the squash cut-side-down on the remaining baking sheet. If your oven is big enough, you can go ahead and put it in now, or else wait until you take out the mixed trays. This also cooks for about 30 minutes, or until very soft.
6. Don’t Forget the Beets
When everything on a tray is done, check on the beets by poking the largest one with a fork. Cook for a while longer if it’s till very firm, and when it is tender, go ahead and turn off the oven. Leave the beets in there until the oven cools down, then remove and peel them – the peels will slip off in your hands.
If you’re feeling ambitious you can also go ahead and rinse, dry, oil and salt those seeds and put them in the oven once you turn off the heat. If you do it right when the heat goes off, there’ll be enough warmth to toast them but not enough to burn them.
7. Using Your Delicious Vegetables
- Eat them as they are.
- Puree the butternut squash and turn it into this soup, or you could mix it with some cream and broth and add in some of the other vegetables and some meat or beans for a heartier version.
- Add pureed butternut squash to baked goods, waffles or the life.
- Save pureed squash for a fabulous souffle that I’ll be posting this week
- Slice beets and put them on salads
- Save beets for the beet-rhubarb recipe I’ll be posting this week