Root vegetables are a segue from Summer to Fall.
Summer comes to a grinding halt. It is quite evident at the farmer’s markets when the root vegetables show up. Soon the white shoes will get put away, and warm above-the-ankle boots will become daily wear. Try as we might, summer slips from our grasp and we settle into root season — the last light at the end of the tunnel is the tomato. But back to our roots.
A few onions to balance the flavor, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt is all that was needed to bring out the sweetness of each vegetable. Slice vegetables, layer in an ovenproof pan and roast away. It really is that simple. This process can be followed with sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, onions, beets, celery root.
Looking for more flavor or to add a bit of spunk to your root vegetables?
For warm flavor use ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and/or cloves. Spice it up with cayenne, tabasco, pepper or a sliced jalapeño. Be creative and use smoked or mild paprika, cumin or garam masala. Go all out and do a generous sprinkle of curry powder.
How long do they need to roast?
It depends on how big or small the items are. If the root vegetables are large, then cutting them into smaller pieces will enable them to roast a bit faster and will give more surface area for the caramelization to take place – when the sugars in the vegetables cook. Charring the edges gives them a nice crispness and a bit more flavor.
Why roast vs other cooking methods?
Roasting is the most common term heard when it comes to root vegetables. First of all, they are hard vegetables and require a longer cooking time that one filled with water to soften. To eat root vegetables raw, grating does the work that teeth would normally do, and saves from a painful jaw post chewing.
Other cooking methods
Root vegetables can be boiled or sautéed. Boiling will soften, but do nothin to enhance the flavor of beets, sweet potatoes or carrots – boiling does not allow the sugars to caramelized. And that is really the point of roasting. The natural sugars in many root vegetables shines through when roasted. If stovetop, and a slight boil is desired to get the cooking going faster, there is a way. Cut the vegetables, place them in a pan about halfway covered with water. Cover and bring to a low boil. When the water has cooked off and the vegetables begin to soften, add a bit of butter or oil and finish the cooking process. This method, allows for the caramelization to take place. Want a bit sweeter of a taste? Add a spoonful of honey or maple syrup.
Looking for new favorites on the roasted root vegetables menu?
Saveur magazine offers 11 ways to be creative with your root vegetables.
Tyler Florence adds some honey to make the sweet potatoes even sweeter.
Lest we forget the parsnip, Cooking Light has a great recipe that is EasyPeasy.
Ugly as it may be, celery root is really good roasted, and something that should be tried.
Root Vegetables w/ Smoked Paprika and RosemaryPrint Recipe
- 3 lbs/1.5kg root vegetables
- 3 floz/90ml safflower oil
- 2 TBSP dried rosemary
- 1 TBSP smoked paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- tabasco sauce, if desired
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C
Clean vegetables. Peel if necessary or desired.
Cut into uniformly sized pieces (smaller pieces cook faster, similar sized pieces cook at approximately the same rate).
Place oil, rosemary, paprika, salt and pepper (and tabasco) in a large mixing bowl. Blend together.
Add cut vegetables and toss well to coat.
TIP: plastic gloves and using hands is the best way to toss vegetable and get a good coating on them.
Place coated vegetables on either a lined baking sheet or in a ceramic/glass baking dish that is big enough to hold all in a couple of layers. (If the layers are too thick, the vegetables will steam instead of roast.)
Place baking dish on middle rack of oven.
At the 20 minute mark, toss the vegetables to re-coat with the oil/spice mixture that will have settled on the bottom of the baking dish.
Toss again as needed.
Vegetables will take 45-60 minutes. The edges will be nicely charred and the vegetables should have a brownish color (not burnt). This means that the sugars have caramelized and are at their best flavor!
This method can be used for all root vegetables. Experiment and enjoy!!!!! Same method can be used with Butternut Squash and Pumpkin. Tabasco or cayenne or any other peppery spice can be used if that type of heat is desired. Heat is a nice balance to the sweetness of the caramelized vegetables.