Cooking

Winter Vegetables

December 18, 2013

Corn ChowderWhoever said that white after Labor Day is a no obviously wasn’t referring to winter white root vegetables. Immediately, potatoes, cauliflower and onions come to mind. But how can we not include celeriac, turnips and parsnips into our list of OMG these are amazing and delicious foods that are actually good for you?

Before I get to the recipes, you know I’m going to dazzle you with some foodie info and a couple of tips for getting the most out of every ingredient I’m telling you about. While the potato, cauliflower and onions are pretty much staples on everyone’s menu, the turnip, celeriac and parsnip are typically an afterthought to add in. Not anymore! Today’s column brings these three winter vegetables to the table (yes, they are available year around but winter is the best time to utilize them).

If you’re unfamiliar with parsnip think of a huge, albino carrot. You can eat it raw or cooked and it’s a great source of fiber. Parsnip has a slightly nutty, slightly sweet, crunchy taste and needs to be peeled before you eat it.

Next up on the white vegetable parade it celeriac AKA celery root. To my taste buds it tastes like a happy mash up of celery and parsley. Celeriac is sometimes called knob celery, or celery root, and can be eaten roasted, stewed, blanched, or mashed.

Last up before the recipes is turnip, sometimes confused with a rutabaga which is a whole different vegetable. This is not my favorite tasting vegetable but is one that a lot of my culinary contemporaries are constantly trying to convince me is really good. The turnip is part of the mustard family and has a slightly earthy crunchy taste and is a really great source of vitamin C.

In my opinion, finding and creating a great recipe that just happen to be good for you in the dead of winter is the best of the best we can do for our families. I’m going to suggest the following compilation of white vegetable recipes as the best way to warm up the shovel brigade, snow blowers and snow man makers and fill a few tummies at the same time.

CAULIFLOWER CHEESE SOUP (dairy)

3 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
7 to 8 cups of cauliflower flowerets (2 medium heads)
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
5 to 6 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
croutons
5 green onions, sliced thin

In a large stock pan saute the onions, celery, cauliflower, potatoes, and garlic in the butter. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes. Add 4 to 5 cups of broth (just to cover the vegetables). Bring to a boil and let boil for 1 minute, then reduce to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes then cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the cream, cheese, soy sauce, cayenne, and pepper. Using a blender (you will need to do this in batches) or an immersion blender (you can do this right in the pot), purée the soup. If you are using a blender return the soup to the pot. Add more chicken broth to create the desired thickness. To serve, ladle into 8 serving bowls and top with croutons and sliced green onions. Serves 8.

My files, source unknown.

BRUSSEL SPOUTS, TURNIP AND BEETS (dairy or pareve)

4 medium-size golden beets, tops trimmed
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
1 1/4 pounds turnips, peeled, each cut into 8 wedges
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup minced onions
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons minced garlic

Preheat oven to 375. Wrap beets in foil; bake for 1 1/2 hours or until they are tender when poked with a fork. Cool. Peel and cut each into 8 wedges.

Cook Brussels sprouts in pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Remove them from the hot water with a slotted spoon; quickly rinse them in cold water. Set them aside but don’t drain the water. Add the turnips and cook for 5 minutes until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water. You can make the dish up to this point a day ahead of time.

To serve, sauté the pine nuts and onions in the butter. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the thyme and garlic. Add the beets, Brussels sprouts and turnips to the pan and heat, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are hot throughout.

Season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 8

Modified from Bon Appétit   November 1999

WINTER GRATIN (dairy, pareve or meat)
Peel and slice the vegetables about 1/8 inches thick for this dish

1 lb parsnips (about 4 medium), peeled and sliced
1 medium celeriac, peeled and sliced
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 lb russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream non dairy substitute

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease a large shallow baking dish. Peel and slice all the vegetables (soak them in cold water as soon as you peel them).

In a large bowl combine the parsnips, celeriac, potatoes and sweet potatoes with the salt, garlic, pepper, nutmeg, broth, and 1 3/4 cup cream, tossing to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Spread the mixture evenly in the dish.

Grease a piece of parchment paper and place it over the top of the vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil. Place the dish on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven (this may drip). Bake 45 minutes, remove the foil and parchment. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Just before serving, preheat the broiler. Drizzle the 2 tablespoons cream over the top and return to the oven and broil for 2 to 3 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Modified from about.com

© Eileen Goltz white vege 13a