Whole Story

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Loving Root Vegetables

By Fred Kasak, November 11, 2008  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Fred Kasak
When the weather starts to cool off, my body and soul begin to crave root vegetables in almost every meal in as many different combinations imaginable. These bulky, clunky, sturdy vegetables have a history of being supporting vegetables buried deep in a stew or a soup. We all know how to cook and eat carrots, but there are so many other great roots that we don’t all know what the heck to do with. Lots of roots can be found in your local Whole Foods Market from some of your favorite growers. I like to buy all different sizes of these classic autumn treats to test my skills in the kitchen and on the dining room table. In my kitchen at home I have been working to isolate the flavors of these tasty roots and build them into as many meals as possible. The Radish family is always a staple in our house; we eat them the European way with butter and salt spread on a raw radish — a great snack any time of year. Black Spanish Radishes and Watermelon Radishes are great to wow your friends with beautiful variety and unusual spicy savory flavors not found in traditional red round radishes. Moving into the rest of the root family, Tokyo Turnips or Purple Top Turnips are a fantastic roaster. I cut mine in fairly thin sections (about a ¼ inch), lay them out onto a cookie sheet, add some olive oil and sea salt and roast at about 400°F. They don’t take long to get all crispy-crunchy. If you are lucky enough to find a Macumber Turnip — a huge all-white turnip — you’ll find these roast to a bit of a softer turnip chip, with much milder flavor than a traditional turnip. Rutabagas are usually larger and have a distinct flavor that is really fantastic in stews. Rutabagas need friends — I have not had great luck isolating Rutabaga into their own dish. I think they are one of the more social roots and therefore need company. Adding Rutabaga to a potato mash or a stew with carrot to add to the sweetness is a great way to go. Parsnips are so much more flavorful than they get credit for. I usually try and find the smallest parsnips available. I cut them lengthwise and cook them in my grill pan on the stovetop along with some pork or a steak. Celery Root makes my favorite slaw; chunked or shredded and lightly braised them before you add your favorite slaw ingredients. I use some Japanese mayonnaise, my favorite smoked salt with some refrigerator pickles. Where to find the best roots? Many local growers are producing great roots, and they store so well, therefore making eating local easy once the season is over — the roots will last well into the winter. Wherever you are, your local Whole Foods Market is sure to have a great selection of roots from your favorite farmer. Out here in New York City we get some of our favorite roots from Satur Farms out on Long Island. Great chefs growing great food is the secret to their success, and we appreciate them. When selecting, choose firm roots. If they have the tops on, all the better because that means those roots are really fresh. Root tops are often trimmed for easier storage, so don’t worry if they don’t have them. Just make sure to avoid soft or wilted looking roots. Refrigerate when you get them home. Fred has worked for Whole Foods Market in produce in stores setting cherry and strawberry displays, in the warehouse on a forklift moving pallets of carrots and broccoli, in the field inspecting orchards and packing houses, as a national buyer, and a regional produce coordinator, when he’s not in fresh snow perfecting the telemark turn or cooking and eating with friends.
Category: Food & Recipes

 

11 Comments

Comments

Jules Ghio says ...
Love Root Veggies.Some time back I used to be able to get Taro Root, and Lotus Root, also Brocoflower. I wish you would carry them as a regular item in all your stores, they are great tasting and better than Viagra, at least for me. Would you please get them? We shop at Coral Springs and Plantation stores We stemed them for a few minutes untill fork tender. Delicvious.
11/13/2008 10:02:33 AM CST
reba says ...
what's a telemark turn? is that like a snow angel?
11/13/2008 10:44:17 AM CST
hsiaw says ...
@reba It's a skiing term. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telemark_skiing
11/13/2008 3:15:16 PM CST
darya says ...
Very informative! I have just started experimenting with root vegetables this winter. I saw those black radishes at Whole Foods today and I admit they scared me a little. Next time :)
11/11/2008 10:41:56 PM CST
Sara Carmichael says ...
Great article on root vegetables! Growing up, my Grandparents would rap a Rutabaga in tin foil and put it in my stocking every Christmas. And EVERY Christmas, I would be disappointed that it wasn't a bowling ball. What can I say?! I was a small kid and the thing looked huge in my stocking! I have to put in my 2 cents regarding your comment above, with your not having luck in isolating Rutabagas into their own dish. Our family pretty much ONLY serves them on their own, cut into small blocks, boiled until soft (20 mins), then served smothered in butter and salt. Delicious! To me, they've always tasted similar to Broccoli. I recently served my finance Rutabagas for the first time and he loved them! Yea! In any case, I was just thrilled to see your article! Root on! Sara
11/11/2008 9:57:36 PM CST
Adrienne says ...
I see jimcana in produce departments but have not had any luck in finding any information on how to prepare and serve it. It looks to be a root. Does anyone have any info?
09/27/2009 6:12:56 PM CDT
glasnost says ...
Well Done! I Like it!
03/19/2010 5:39:49 PM CDT
Kristina says ...
Do you sell black radish in your stores? Thanks
08/09/2013 10:30:04 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@KRISTINA - Our products vary between stores. Check with your local store to see what they have in stock!
08/12/2013 12:38:25 PM CDT
chris says ...
do you carry watermelon radishes in your Centennial or Littleton stores?
06/11/2014 2:30:44 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@CHRIS - Our products differ between stores. Check with your store to find out what they have in stock!
06/11/2014 4:23:52 PM CDT