One of the “Winter” foods I most look forward to is root vegetables. Sure they’re available all year, but cold weather is a good time to make the best of them. Carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, celery root and radishes can all be the star of the show. They are simple, inexpensive and absolutely delicious if not taken for granted and boiled to death. Here are some of my favorite ways to use these delicious vegetables.
Carrots natural sweetness will shine when slowly cooked with nothing but butter and salt. Peel the carrots, slice them into very thin pennies and put them in a shallow pan with a tight fitting lid, a pinch of salt and a spoonful of butter. Place them on very low heat and they will cook slowly, in their own juices with the butter until amazingly sweet and tender. Parsnips and Rutabagas both lend themselves to this same technique. Thin ribbons of parsnip shaved with a plain old vegetable peeler turn into delicious crunchy treats when slowly fried at 300 degrees. For something truly exotic you can fry threads of salsify the same way. Parsnips or celery root make a great addition to mashed potatoes. Peel and slice them very thin and boil them right along with your potatoes. My favorite way to eat celery root is grated and made into slaw with Remoulade sauce. Make sure to sprinkle it with lemon juice as you grate it so it doesn’t turn brown. Radishes are almost always eaten raw but they also make a fine cooked vegetable. Daikon radishes in particular take on a nice earthy sweetness when slowly braised. I despised turnips as a child but feel in love with them once I learned how to cook and figured out how to “candy” them. Peel and cut them into wedges and cook them in butter over very low heat, just barely sizzling until a rich golden brown on all sides and you’ll be amazed at their sweetness.
Gingered Parsnip and Carrot Salad
Peel and cut 3 carrots and 3 parsnips into very fine julienne. I prefer to do it by hand but by all means feel free to use a Japanese mandoline. Season with salt and toss with lemongrass ginger dressing.
Lemongrass Ginger dressing
Heat two cups canola oil to about 150 degrees, as hot as you can possibly stand to the touch, not more. Crush the bulb from a stalk of lemongrass with a heavy cleaver and add to the oil. Cover and allow to infuse for 48 hours. Strain and whisk in 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger root and salt to taste.