With the Autumnal Equinox nearly one month behind us and the weather falling right in line, it's time to celebrate all that Autumn has to offer. Cool crisp evening air causing child-like cravings for hot apple cider. Pumpkins in all shapes and sizes just waiting to be carved and filled with the flickering light of votives. And of course, the ultimate in festive fall dining. Root vegetables.
Most of you have found comfort in the most ubiquitous varieties such as carrots, potatoes, and onions. But there is a world of unearthed potential and versatility just below the surface. Roots can be prepared in dozens of different ways. Boiled, baked, grilled, or steamed; sliced, shredded, chopped, pureed. Your imagination is the only boundary in the preparation of these flavor-rich gems. This time of year, I believe, offers the most wonderful option. You just can't go wrong with "roasted" root vegetables.
A little olive oil, some fresh herbs, a selection of your new favorite roots, and now you're cooking. Crank your oven up high...maybe 450° or so, and you have a most satisfying side dish, delicious served hot or room temperature. A great make-ahead dish too!
"But which roots are best?" you ask. Well, start with the basics. Fingerling potatoes (instead of the usual reds or bakers), carrots, shallots, and beets. Look for some odd varieties and unusual colors, if you like. Locate a Farmers Market and ask about golden beets or red carrots. Then throw in something you've never had: turnips, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, rutabaga, or yucca. For a real flavor burst throw in some garlic, leeks, ginger, or fennel.
Now I don't mean to imply that you can just pick these up at the local grocery. You may need to really search for some of these. But what better way to spend an Autumn weekend, than with a family "root vegetable scavenger hunt?" Enjoy!