As the cooler weather approaches, we are going to start seeing an influx of root vegetables into the harvest boxes. Whether it’s beet, celery root, turnip, or rutabaga, these hardy foods thrive in the winter because of their resistance to cold. Some of our less adventurous friends express some disappointment when root veggie season rolls around- “awww, rutabaga again?” – but here at PCH we think root veggies are awesome. All it takes is a bit of root veggie know-how to keep these foods interesting over the long winter. Let’s start with the basics.
Beets are sweet, juicy root veggies that have the consistency slightly thicker than a potato, but with a much sweeter taste. Beets are the primary ingredient in the traditional Ukrainian soup called borscht, a stew-like dish with beets, potatoes, carrots, and beef or pork broth. Boiled, cubed, and chilled beets also make excellent additions to spinach salads in the fall, and beet greens can also be eaten sautéed. They come in many varieties, including red, gold, and “Chiogga”, the type that exhibits beautiful red and white spirals when sliced in cross-section. Be careful when cooking with red beets, as the juice can put bright magenta stain on your clothing.
The TurnipThe turnip is a white and pink taproot of Brassica rapa. It grows partially under and above ground, with the underground part remaining white and the above ground part turning colors, usually pink. In southern cuisine, turnip greens are sometimes eaten boiled like collard greens. Turnips have a spicy kick to them, almost like a radish, and this can be a great addition to a beef stew.
The RutabagaRutabagas look quite similar to turnips, but the colored top of the root tends to be a darker, more muted purple rather than pink, and the white subterranean part of the root tends to be a more yellowish cream color. The flavor of a rutabaga is milder than a turnip, with less radish-like kick. Rutabagas are good for adding substance to soups and stews, or for roasting on their own.
Celery RootCelery root (or celeriac) is a variety of celery that is grown for its large edible root. It has a spicy, bitter celery taste, but a texture more like a turnip or a rutabaga. Celeriac makes an excellent addition to stocks, and tastes great sliced thin and roasted with salt.
Let us know which is your favorite root veggie!