Root of the Matter Part 2: Root Vegetables in the Main Course
Chopped celeriac & potato, herbs & other root vegetables
Today’s post focuses on recipes for root vegetables in the main course of the meal. From a medley of easy roasted vegetables to salad to different combinations to jazz up the usual mashed potatoes, root vegetables are so versatile in the fall and winter kitchen.
- Sweet Potatoes & Golden Beets
Roasted Root Vegetables
We often enjoy a winter meal of a tray of roasted vegetables (root and otherwise), with some chicken or pork (often roasted right on the same tray). Once everything is in the oven, the cook can relax, only having to check periodically to turn the vegetables over.
Note: if you are using red beets, it’s a good idea to handle them separately to avoid the colour transference to the other vegetables. If you don’t mind everything taking on their deep red colour, then by all means mix everything together!
To roast root vegetables, cut them into equal sized chunks anywhere from ½ to 1-inch in size. If you are using any more tender vegetables that will cook faster, cut them into bigger pieces so they’ll cook in the same amount of time.
The temperature and cooking time varies, depending on whether or not there is something else in the oven that requires a specific temperature. Lower temperature = longer cooking time and vice versa. Generally if I’m roasting the vegetables on their own, I heat the oven to 375º F.
Caramelized & Luscious Roasted Sweet Potato
Toss the vegetables in a minimal amount of oil (I prefer extra virgin olive oil). For a whole tray of vegetables I typically use 2 tbsp oil; start with 1 tbsp and only add more if you need it. For flavour and aroma it’s nice to include quartered onions and some garlic cloves that have been halved or coarsely chopped. I also like to include some fresh herbs, like sage, thyme and rosemary to enhance the vegetables.
Line your baking tray(s) with parchment paper for easy clean up. Spread out the vegetables so they’re not crowded (this helps promote caramelization). Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and a bit of salt.
Cooking time will depend on how big the chunks of vegetables are and your oven. Turn the vegetables every 20 minutes or so (more often if they’re cut smaller) to promote browning on all sides.
The vegetables are done when they’re nicely caramelized on the outside and lusciously soft on the inside, like the roasted sweet potatoes pictured above.
Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale & Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
This salad is a good way to use up leftover roasted root vegetables, or you can easily roast the vegetables just for this purpose. For the Root of the Matter class, we used sweet potatoes and golden beets. The golden beets were a great choice instead of the more common red beets, as we didn’t need two trays to avoid dying the sweet potatoes red. The golden beets are every bit as delicious but far less messy!
Note: We didn’t get a photo of the finished salad at the class, but the picture above shows a similar salad, made with kale and quinoa.
Pre-heat the oven to 375º F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Serves 4 as a starter or side salad or 2 as a meal.
- 1 sweet potato, trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 golden beet, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- several sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from stems
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- salt to taste
- 8 oz mixed greens, washed and dried
- OPTIONAL: 2 oz goat cheese or feta cheese, for garnish
- Orange Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Toss the cubed vegetables in the olive oil (if using both, work with them separately to avoid the beet juice bleeding onto the sweet potato). Add a couple of grindings of fresh black pepper and a light sprinkling of salt (a couple of pinches), along with the thyme and toss again. Spread on the prepared baking sheet(s) and roast for about 30 minutes, turning the vegetables halfway through to promote even browning. The vegetables are done when they are caramelized on the outside and soft on the inside.
Leave the trays on racks to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
A salad swimming in dressing is not a pleasant dining experience. I always dress my salads quite lightly, so the vinaigrette enhances but doesn’t overwhelm the flaovur of the greens and other ingredients.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed if you have an orange handy)
- Optional: a few pinches of orange zest
- 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk with a fork or small whisk until pleasingly emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings if required.
Use half the dressing to toss the greens, and the other half for the roasted vegetables (again, if you’re using red beets, work with them separately).
Assembly: Place a bed of greens on each plate. Top with a scattering of roasted vegetables, and garnish with the goat or feta cheese if using.
Potato Turnip Mash
Potato Turnip Mash
Mashed potatoes were a staple on the table when my kids were growing up, and they’re still popular at our family gatherings. Adding in another root vegetable like turnips is a good way to ramp up the taste and introduce additional nutrients. Some dried or fresh herbs add additional colour and flavour.
Since potatoes and turnips are of similar consistency, you can cook them together in the same pot.
Note, many recipes that call for vegetables are not exact in their measurements. I could weigh out how much potato or turnip I used, but the reality is that if my turnip is a little over or under, I’m just going to use it anyway. Cooking is an art, and much of what we do is by eye and by taste. Relax in the kitchen and go with the flow!
Serves 4 with modest portions.
- 2 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 medium sized turnips
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup milk (I use 2%)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- leaves from several sprigs fresh thyme
Peel, cube and wash the potato and turnip. I had slightly less turnip than potato. Place them in a small pot and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook until the vegetables are fork tender.
Pour off the water, add the butter and let the pot sit covered for a few minutes. Using a potato masher, mash until all the potato and turnip is broken down. Add several grindings of black pepper and about half the salt. Pour in most but not all of the milk.
Continue to mash until the mixture is smooth. Add more milk if required to reach the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings if required. Stir in the fresh thyme leaves.