Farm fresh produce right in the middle of winter? Sounds too good to be true! Actually, there is an in-season vegetable that’s sure to cure your winter blues — hearty, inexpensive, versatile root veggies.
Why Root Vegetables Can’t Be Beet
The name gives it away: A root vegetable is one that grows below ground. Carrots, onions, and potatoes are perhaps the most popular among this special group that also includes beets, celery root, kohlrabi, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips.
During the colder months, these veggies find their way into the spotlight and onto the plates of healthy eaters—and all for good reason. Roots are some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables around. While each has its own characteristics, they are almost universally a good source of several vitamins, iron, and fiber. And all those gorgeous colors mean they’re chock-full of disease-fighting antioxidants, too.
Suddenly, winter’s looking brighter!
Turnip the Volume on Your Plate
Raw or roasted, baked or boiled, steamed or sautéed—there’s more than one way to enjoy winter’s bounty. Now’s the time to pull out that favorite mashed sweet potato or soup recipe.
You can also give the following dishes from our menus a try. We caught up with Aramark Chef Bill Allen to learn what sets root vegetables apart, and how he likes to work them into meals.
ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLE MEDLEY
“Roasting root vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and intensifies the flavor, and it is super easy” said Chef Bill. “Make a big batch and you’ll have endless ways to use them in salads, as a side dish, or even in sandwiches.”
Note: Aramark’s roasted medley contains sweet potatoes, yellow carrots, parsnips, onions, red peppers, and even kale leaves! But you can pick the blend of root vegetables you like best.
2 lb. mixed vegetables (see note above), chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. coarse kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 375o
- Vegetables should be peeled, cleaned and trimmed as appropriate. Try carrots washed, but not peeled, for extra texture!
- Toss with oil and salt.
- Spread vegetables on sheet pan in a single layer.
- Roast until vegetables are tender, 20-25 minutes.
“Colder months call for heartier textures,” says Chef Bill. Here roasted root vegetables, candied walnuts, chickpeas, dried apricots, and greens are drizzled with a cranberry balsamic dressing. The result: a bowl that’s healthy, super-filling and nothing short of a work of art.
Ingredients: (serves 6 as an entree salad)
10-12 oz. baby kale salad mix, washed
3 C. roasted root vegetables (preceding recipe)
3 oz. candied walnuts
1 15.5 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained
3 oz. crumbled feta cheese
2 oz. dried apricots, diced
Cranberry balsamic dressing
- For the dressing, puree 3/4 C. balsamic vinaigrette dressing with 2 oz. frozen whole cranberries (thawed) and 1/4 t. salt. Makes about 1 cup.
- Assemble the salad ingredients in serving bowl(s). Drizzle with dressing as desired.
The earthiness of cumin and heat of green onions balance against the natural sweetness of the root veggies, which are steamed first, then grilled to give them those char marks we all love.
1 1/2 lbs. fresh carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
2-3 green onions (scallions), washed and trimmed
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 t. coarse kosher salt
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ground black pepper
- In pan or steamer basket, steam carrots until tender-crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain.
- Get char-grill or grill pan very hot. Add carrots and scallions to pan until grill marks form and vegetables are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Cut scallions into 1-inch pieces.
- Toss hot vegetables with remaining ingredients. Serve.
ROASTED BEET & ORANGE SALAD (serves 6)
Colorful and seasonal, this dish not only looks pretty, it tastes just as light and fresh. It gets tossed with an equally fresh citrus vinaigrette.
1 – 1 1/4 lbs. (2-3) fresh beets, peeled, sliced 1/4″
1/4 t. coarse kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
Fresh baby arugula, washed
2 oranges, peeled, seeded, sectioned
2 T. flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 T. toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Citrus vinaigrette dressing (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 375oF (convection oven 350oF)
- On parchment-lined sheet pan(s), spread beets in single layer. Coat beets with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake until tender-crisp, 15-25 minutes. Cool.
- In serving bowl, toss arugula, chopped roasted beets, oranges, parsley, sesame seeds (if using), and citrus vinaigrette dressing. Serve.
Citrus Vinaigrette: Add to bowl 2 T. fresh orange juice, 1 t. fresh lemon juice, 1 t. minced fresh thyme leaves, 1 t. grated orange zest, 1 t. grated lemon zest, pinch coarse kosher salt, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Whisk ingredients while drizzling 3 T. olive oil into bowl to emulsify.
Note: Since everyone’s health history and nutritional needs are so different, please make sure that you talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian to get advice about the diet and exercise plan that‘s right for you.