Root Veggies

Veggies From Down Under

They’re called “the lowly vegetables” because they were often the staple food of peasants, but turnips, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips and other root vegetables are high class when it comes to nutrition. Because they’re the underground root of a plant, they serve as the storage bin for its nutrients — and we get the benefits when we eat them. Most are loaded with vitamins, fiber and nutrients while at the same time being low in calories and fat.

Winter is the season for most root vegetables, so the supply is now abundant and cheap. While most of us are familiar with onions, potatoes and carrots, we may be befuddled when faced with a big, waxy rutabaga (take that wax off before you cook it) or a parsnip that looks like an anemic carrot. Cooks say they can be steamed, boiled, mashed or puréed, but one of the most healthful, delicious and easy ways to serve root vegetables is by roasting them.

Cooking with the other methods might require cream, butter and salt to make the vegetables palatable, but roasting brings out their natural sweet flavors without too many additional ingredients. Roasting recipes abound on the Internet, but most require you to chop whatever vegetables you want — combining different ones is a great idea — coat them with a small amount of olive oil, and add salt, pepper and herbs. Roast them in a very hot (450-degree) oven for 45 minutes to an hour and you’ll have a healthful dish that is hearty and warming on cold winter nights.

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