Saturday, 11 October 2008

I Love: Root Vegetables

These guys are great, and now that it is Autumn, fresh produce is finding its way into the stores! Storage stuff is fine, but its when you get the fresh stuff that you can really appreciate how sweet these guys can be. I love to bake them, roast them, make them into soup, muffins, pies (I'll share a Sweet Potato Pie recipe over the weekend as I'm making it for Thanksgiving) and mash them up!

I've included tubers as well as root vegetables in this love post, as they all grow under the ground at the bottom of the plants. So don't get all botanically technical on me here. (Dad, I'm talking to you) So lets go through some of them shall we?

I was never much of a potato fan when I was younger, but now I love them. Baked always seemed boring to me before but now, I see possibilities! The different varieties give you so much choice - fluffy fleshed, firm fleshed even purple. Big or little, boiled, mashed, baked, roasted or fried - meals are built around the potato.

Sweet Potato / Yam / Kumara
OK, basically you get orange fleshed and pale fleshed sweet potatoes. There's this whole North American thing where the orange sweet potatoes are called yams in some places and not in others, and vice versa with the pale fleshed ones, so I just call them all sweet potatoes and specify which colour flesh I mean! Usually the orange fleshed I would also call Kumara, being that I am from New Zealand, and this is what I mean when I think of a yam. Not that I've ever seen them in the stores here. Its all too confusing. I love the orange fleshed suckers the best, as they make wonderful soups and can be easily used for sweet baked goods like the pie I mentioned before and in muffins!
Beet / Beetroot
Here in North America they're called beets, but I still refer to them as beetroot which is what we call them in New Zealand. I love the little ones roasted they are so sweet cooked this way! Also good grated into salads (yes, raw) and made into a bright soup. Not keen on the pickled, canned stuff you can get. Beware the Beetroot pee if you have this genetic quirk!

I love these guys roasted, or made into chips / oven fries. They are sweet tasting, but a grown up taste I think as I only started appreciating them a decade or so ago. If you're not a parsnip fan or have never tried them - peel, slice into coins, toss in a little olive oil, with a smidgen of salt / pepper and a drop of maple syrup and roast at 400F for about 30 minutes. Delicious!

Apparently the most popular vegetable int eh world. My kids love them raw, and won't eat them cooked, and to be honest I can see what they mean, I'm not overly fond of them plain boiled either. Roast them, or made into soup their sweetness shines and I could have them every day!

Swede / Rutabaga / Brown Turnip
I call 'em Swedes, being that is what we call them in NZ, and the UK. I have no idea what they call them in Sweden, Rutabaga is what they get called in lots of North America, though in the shops here its more likely to be "Brown Turnip" - which is what they look like I suppose. These guys are the "Neeps" part of "Haggis, Neeps and Tatties" the traditional Scottish Burns Supper, as posted many times by me in the past. Not my favourite and best of all these guys, but I like them as one in a roast root veg medley and in soup.
I find turnips to be hit or miss, even when they are fresh season, often they are woody, and the centers fibrous. I use them as I do swedes when I want another taste in a mix, or to add body to a soup. Made famous in the children's story about the Very Enormous Turnip - "..and they pulled and they pulled and they pulled" (what do you mean you've never heard it??)

Here's a photo of a lovely Maple Ginger Roast Root Vegetable Medley - a tester one for Isa at the PPK's brunch book that I made for with dinner last night.


Jeni Treehugger said...

Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew!

half pint pixie said...

Kumara! We lived in Wellington a couple of years ago and everytime we ate out there was kumara on the menu, I loved it! I was just thinking about it today as we were eating sweet potatoes and I was wondering if they were the same thing or different altogether :)

Linda said...

I love the carrot picture with the different colour carrots (thought I know you borrowed it from somewhere). I found purple carrots at the vege shop round the corner a wee while ago, they were really really sweet. And my fingers went purple when I peeled them!