Winter marks the start of a more robust vegetable crop, when beetroot, parsnips, turnips and celeriac come into season. Here's how to get the most out of these hardy root vegetables.
Winter is no time for flimsy fruit and veg – during colder months, our diets crave a more robust edge. Roots flourish in chilly weather as they grow underground, away from the elements above. They're also packed with vitamins, which are especially important in winter. Here's how to make the most of these brilliant roots.
The taste of boiled carrots can bring back fond memories of childhood Sunday lunches, but this harsh cooking technique can result in bland, watery carrots. If you do prefer to boil them, try leaving the carrots whole and slicing afterwards so they don't absorb too much liquid. Personally, we'd rather enjoy them in a salad with cumin, garlic and coriander; stir-fry them with spices; roast them with honey; grate them into veggie burgers; blend them into soup or use them to make a moreish carrot cake.
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This sweet, creamy root is a relative of the carrot, but is pale white in appearance. Parsnips are typically roasted like potatoes, which preserves their nutrients, but they can replace potatoes in other ways, such as by grating them into hash browns or making them into chips. They also work well in a gratin and can bulk out curries, casseroles and stews nicely. If you'd like to be a bit more adventurous, try using parsnips to make gnocchi or even sticky toffee pudding – their sweet, earthy taste compliments these dishes beautifully.
Once most commonly found crinkle-cut and pickled, beetroot is now readily available fresh and in bundles. You can even get it in juice form, which can take some getting used to, but is worth it for the health benefits. Beetroot soup – or bortsch – is a classic winter warmer in eastern Europe. Try our version made with beetroot, cumin, yogurt & coriander for a healthy, filling lunch.
If you're putting on a party spread, beetroot hummus makes a stunning, scrumptious dip for veggie crudités or toasted breadsticks. Beetroot is also great when roasted and served with goat's cheese or smoked fish. If you need an impressive meat-free centerpiece for a special occasion, look no further than our vegan beetroot & red onion tarte tatin.
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This knobbly white root looks nothing like a globe artichoke, but Jerusalem artichokes have the same distinct, earthy flavour. Scrub them clean and roast like you would a potato – it tastes brilliant when served with an aïoli dip – or blend into a creamy soup or serve in a gratin with smoked haddock. They also work well as part of a hearty winter salad, or simply fried in butter and served with a Sunday roast.
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The much-maligned turnip may not be as glamorous as its fellow roots, but it's a bargain vegetable with a delicate sweet flavour and creamy flesh. Carrot & turnip mash makes a delicious addition to a roast dinner, and it can be jazzed up with butternut squash and nutmeg. Sliced, turnips make a lighter substitution for potatoes in dauphinoise or tartiflette, while baby turnips are great roasted with meat.
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Not dissimilar to the turnip, celeriac is also a budget-friendly buy and is peppery, like celery. It works really well with white fish such as smoked haddock and cod, as well as rich pork belly. Or, simply serve it roasted in honey with mushrooms & thyme for a veggie dinner-party main. Celeriac can also be cooked as you would a potato and served in mash with bacon and cabbage, whipped into a creamy champ or whizzed into a soup.
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Root vegetable medleys
Unsurprisingly, these vegetables work well together. A traybake of mixed roots makes a welcome accompaniment to roasts, stews and baked fish. Looking for a veggie Christmas showstopper? Try our stunning root vegetable tatin with candied nuts and blue cheese – delicious when served warm on the big day, and even better eaten cold as part of a Boxing Day buffet. You could also try adding a glug of cream and turning a selection of root veg into a gratin. And if you still have any leftovers, they can be put to good use in this moreish orange cake.
How do you like to use your roots? Leave a comment below...