Roots, Glorious Roots!


This post was written by A. Caluen. Click the title above to take you to the original post!

As I sat at my desk gloomily eating a prefabricated sandwich for lunch and browsing links from my favorite blogs, I came across this:
Now, it just so happens that roasted root vegetables are one of my new go-to dishes.  I like what this author suggests as to seasoning variations.  And I absolutely MUST TRY the garlic thing.  I've been intending to try roasting garlic anyway (so easy, I know) and this tip seems as though it will make the extraction of the garlic super user-friendly.  Yum.
The way I fix roots is pretty much as Sophie describes, but to make it crystal clear here goes:  Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9x13 baking dish, add black pepper and thyme (to taste; I like it no matter what other seasoning goes in later); do this now so the oil can take up some of the flavor of the spices.
Then scrub your roots, trim the ends and any rootlets, and chop into roastable bits.  I don't peel 'em.  Roots don't actually have "peels," just skins, so why take the extra time and create the extra waste?  And I don't worry about whether they cook at the same rate; I'm perfectly happy to have soft beets and slightly crisp parsnips together.  Toss everything in the roasting pan and shuffle it all around to lightly coat all the veg.
Meanwhile, you'll have preheated your oven to 400 degrees.  Cover your loaded roasting pan lightly with foil and put it in the oven for 25 minutes.  Then take it out, shuffle everything around again, re-cover, and put it back for another 25 minutes.  Test your veg at this point; if you like it a bit al dente, it is probably good to go.  If you like things softer, give it another 10-15 minutes while you cook whatever protein will be joining the roots on your table.
One thing I really appreciate about the roots is that I can do the cooking on a Sunday when I have more time, and there is still plenty left for a couple of dinners during the week.  Of course, I'm only feeding two, but there is no law that says you can't prepare two pans full of this stuff at the same time.
In addition to the chili/lemon, rosemary/garlic, and maple/ginger seasoning options, I would suggest curry/cayenne and sauteed onion/balsamic vinegar.  All of these preparations are just as good cold as hot, but if the weather is cold obviously you'll want your dinner to be warm. 
Roots are nutritionally dense and relatively low calorie, and as far as I know, are not commonly allergenic.  They make a great substitute for starchy sides like white potatoes, pasta, or rice.  And while a lot of great roots are in season right now, they are pretty easy to find year-round in most areas.  On top of all that, they are inexpensive in terms of volume of food per unit price.  I got a two-pound bag of organic carrots for $1.29 and six huge organic beets for under $4 not long ago; that made a dish that fed us several times, with a lot of carrots left over.  Bring on the beta-carotene!

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