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Sunday, December 8, 2013

The 7 Best Root Veggies You Aren't Cooking

Move over, potatoes and carrots. These underrated alternatives have a similarly earthy flavor and pleasingly dense texture -- with just enough oomph to excite your palate. In other words, great winter meals start here. 
Rutabaga
Brassica napus
Mashed or pureed, this peppery, nutty-sweet species of turnip goes well with rich meats. Whether it's waxed for longer shelf life (which is usually what you'll find at the supermarket) or left unwaxed, you'll want to peel it. 
Jerusalem Artichoke
Helianthus tuberosus
Often sold under the name sunchoke, this North American tuber is related to the sunflower. Its artichoke-like flavor adds nuance to a potato mash or roasted vegetables.  
Parsnip
Pastinaca sativa
Don't be fooled by the plain, pale appearance of this root, which is related to the carrot and celery root; it has a fragrant herbal complexity. Roasting caramelizes the outside and turns the inside creamy. 
Yuca (Cassava, Manioc)
Manihot esculenta
Yuca (YOO-ka) is most familiar in the form of tapioca, but the buttery-tasting root can be mashed or simmered in stews. It is unrelated to yucca (YUK-ka), a succulent plant. 
Celery Root (Celeriac)
Apium graveolens
This root with a mild celery flavor has finesse: It gives velvety body to creamy soups and purees; and cut into pieces and roasted, it's subtle and sophisticated. 
Jicama
Pachyrhizus erosus
The primary source of jicama (HEE-ka-ma) is Mexico, where the crunchy, juicy tuber is often served raw with chile, salt, and lime. A quick saute brings out the gentle, leguminous sweetness of this member of the bean family. 
Turnip
Brassica rapa
Like its cousin the radish, the turnip comes in various shapes and sizes. The purple-topped type, with its clean, peppery bite, adds balance to a blend of roasted root vegetables and cuts the richness of a potato gratin. 
Fresh veggies don't need much to make them shine. This tasty, seasonal meal cooks in just one pan.

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