Roasting Roots & Recipes

Fall is here! Now is the time to revel in fresh and seasonal foods. The Co-op’s Produce Department has dozens of locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables in stock now. We source our produce from many local farms in Skagit and Whatcom County, including: Cascadia Mushrooms, Skagit Flats, Hedlin Farms, Mitchell Bay, Ralph’s Greenhouse, Highwater Farm, Well Fed Farm, Crow’s Farm, Blue Heron, Well Fed, Moondance, Edible Acres, to name a few.

Autumn is a time of abundance in the Pacific Northwest. We celebrate the last of the ripe melons, plums and tomatoes, as well as freshly plucked squash and harvest of root vegetables. Root vegetables can be a little intimidating, with their strange, tough appearance. But they’re a hardy bunch – they don’t bruise easily, and they keep and travel well. They also have much to offer cooks: plenty of flavor, color, texture and nutrition.

Getting to Know Root Veggies

What qualifies produce as a root vegetable? Simply put, it’s food that’s grown underground. Some root veggies are familiar – carrots, beets, potatoes (technically a tuber), sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and radishes, for example. Others are less common but equally deserving of a spot in the pantry, such as celeriac, jicama, kohlrabi, rutabagas, burdock root, parsnips, turnips and horseradish.

Root vegetables tend to be nutritional powerhouses because they grow underground where they can absorb nutrients from the soil. The specifics vary with each veggie, but they’re generally high in antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C. They’re low in calories and high in fiber to boot.

Raw or cooked, root vegetables are versatile in everything from salads to soups to side dishes and main entrées. Use root vegetables to make chips, hash browns or fries, and add them to stir fries. Or celebrate these workhorses by crafting a potpie or stew using an assortment of root veggies. Most root vegetables can also be pickled.

You can pick up root vegetables year round, though there are peak seasons, such as: summer through fall for beets; fall and winter for turnips and rutabagas; and fall through spring for parsnips.

Selection & Storage

When shopping, look for root veggies that are bruise free, with no cuts. Bear in mind that when it comes to roots, the firmer the better. If the leafy greens are still attached, they should be bright and not limp. Choose specimens that are heavy for their size but not too large or they may be have a “woody” texture and less flavor.

If you’re lucky enough to have a root cellar, you can store root vegetables for months on end. Otherwise, keep the unwashed veggies in a cool, dark place or tuck them in the crisper of the refrigerator in a paper, plastic or vegetable storage bag. Don’t refrigerate onions, garlic or potatoes until they’ve been cut or cooked. Most will keep for two weeks or longer.

Root Vegetable Roasts

Roasting root veggies enhances their natural sweetness. To roast, simply toss the cut up veggies with a little oil and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle with garlic, salt, pepper and other seasonings as you like. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for about half an hour, stirring once halfway through. Be sure to check the veggies as they cook; some will take longer, some less time. They should be nicely browned.

Read on for some Co-op fall comfort food recipes. Simple and filling, the ingredients for these meals are very flexible. Substitute your favorite root vegetables, and take inspiration from what’s in your crisper drawer. The leftovers keep well and can be enjoyed for breakfast or lunch. Simply warm and top with a fried/poached egg. Garnish with fresh herbs like parsley, dill or rosemary. Serve with a drizzle of avocado or olive oil, for added flavor and nutrition.

Italian Sausage with Fall Vegetables

Recipe & photo from strongertogether.coop

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound uncooked CURED sausage links, any type
  • 1/2 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped

Directions:

Heat the oven to 400°F. In a large roasting pan, combine the parsnips, sweet potato, red onions, garlic, sage, pepper and salt, and drizzle with vegetable oil. Toss to coat. Pierce each sausage link four times on one side with a paring knife, then turn over and pierce four more times. Place the sausages on the vegetables and cover the pan tightly with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes, then uncover the pan, stir and turn the sausages, and roast for 15 minutes longer, uncovered. The vegetables should be tender when pierced with a paring knife; if the vegetables are in larger chunks, they may need more time to cook. When the vegetables are tender, add the kale to the hot pan and stir, then roast for 10 minutes longer. Serve hot.

Roasted Cauliflower & Potatoes with Feta

Recipe & Photo from strongertogether.coop

Ingredients:

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces feta cheese (cow, goat or sheep), crumbled
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

Directions:

Heat the oven to 425°F. Slice the cauliflower into large florets with a knife so that the flat side of the florets can make full contact with the pan and caramelize during baking. Dice the potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes and slice the carrots crosswise, about 1/3-inch thick. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and salt. Toss vegetables to coat and spread out on the pan. Bake for 30 minutes, shaking and turning the pan halfway through. When the vegetables are tender and easily pierced with a knife, remove from the oven and toss with feta and parsley. Serve hot.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.