Food – Back to your Roots

“God has furnished man with abundant means for the gratification of an unperverted appetite. He has spread before him the products of the earth—a bountiful variety of food that is palatable to the taste and nutritious to the system. Of these our benevolent heavenly Father says we may freely eat. … They impart nourishment to the body and give a power of endurance and a vigor of intellect that are not produced by a stimulating diet.” Child Guidance, 380.

As fall’s harvest fades from memory and spring’s bounty is waiting for warmer temperatures, what better time than now to dig up delicious possibilities of root vegetables. Insulated from the elements and nurtured by the soil’s nutrients, these underground wonders develop better flavor when it’s chilly and damp out—the cool temperatures convert root vegetables’ starches to sugar and make them sweeter.

Carrots, turnips, and potatoes may be the mainstay of most root vegetable recipes, but there’s a lot to be gained by trying some of their knobby, nubbly cousins, found alongside them in grocery store cases and farmers’ market bins.

Beets – Raw or roasted, their earthy, sweet flavor far outshines the canned variety. Try them in: Salads

Burdock – These long, thin Asian favorites stay crisp after cooking for a texture that’s a lot like water chestnuts. Try them in: Salads and stir-fries

Celery Root – Once peeled, the large knob reveals a creamy white flesh that tastes like a milder, sweeter version of the stalks. Try them in: Grated slaws and salads, roasted vegetable medleys, soups, and mashed potatoes.

Daikon Radishes – These pale white Asian roots taste a lot like their little red cousin, though they can sometimes be spicier. Try them in: salads and stir-fries

Jerusalem Artichokes or Sunchokes – The sweet, artichoke flavor of these veggies from the sunflower family gives them their name. Try them in: Roasted vegetable medleys and stir-fries

Jicama – It looks like a large, round potato, but jicama’s crisp crunch tastes more like cucumber. Try them in: Salads and tacos, or cut into sticks for a snack

Parsnips – Their delicate taste, a cross between carrots and parsley, makes these veggies a cold-weather favorite. Try them in: Soups, roasted vegetable medleys, and mashed potatoes

Rutabagas – With a milder, sweeter flavor and a creamier texture than turnips, rutabagas are a gardener’s favorite because they’re so easy to grow. Try them in: Soups, roasted vegetable medleys, and mashed potatoes

Root vegetables provide an abundance of savory recipe options between seasons. Unearth the secrets to cooking with lesser-known roots and keep your meals exciting all year-round!

Adapted from Vegetarian Times, March 2009.