Slice of Life: Fall Root Vegetables

October 18, 2011

Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog, or web site.

The holiday is over and the veggie doctor is in. Time to get to the root of the problem. What’s the problem, you ask? Why, getting the most out of the tubers and taproots commonly known as root vegetables that are front-and-center in the produce aisles these days.

If you want to get technical (and when don’t I?), “root vegetables” should only be considered root vegetables if it is either a tuberous root or a taproot. This category includes, but is not limited to: beets, carrots, horseradish, radishes, rutabagas, parsnips, and turnips. Other vegetables you think might be root vegetables are just vegetables grown underground, and they are (and this is by no means a complete list or in any particular order) bulbs (onions and garlic), corms (celeriac and taro), rhizomes (ginger and turmeric), and tubers (all kinds of potatoes). The previous information notwithstanding, most everyone thinks of underground plants as root vegetables – so for the purpose of this column, I’m going to say the more the merrier and include them in some of the recipes.

These cold weather food staples are jam packed full of vitamins, nutrients, and complex carbohydrates. Most should be washed and peeled before eating or cooking (they are, after all, grown under DIRT). Some of these veggies you can and should eat raw, but most taste best if cooked either by roasting, boiling and seasoning with oil, salt, pepper and a variety of herbs and spices. Some you can mash, others you can julienne and toss in a salad. The following list of tips and recipes of soups, salads, and main dishes should get you going and keep you fed until the asparagus and strawberries of spring are available.

Note: Several of the following recipes have variables in the amount of ingredients. This is so you can add or subtract herbs and spices to your heart’s (and taste buds’) content. A little more of this herb or that vegetable in these recipes won’t hurt them one bit.


  • Beets: roast, broasted, in soup, salads
  • Turnip: can be eaten raw, roasted, broasted, boiled and mashed, soups
  • Potato: boiled, roasted, broasted, boiled and mashed, soups, salads
  • Parsnip: boiled, roasted, broasted, boiled and mashed, soups
  • Rutabaga: boiled, roasted, broasted, boiled and mashed
  • Carrots: raw, roasted, boiled, broasted, mashed, soups, salads
  • Radish: raw, salads


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups turnips, cubed
  • 1 cup rutabagas, cubed
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3/4 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary and sage or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups kale, stems removed and finely chopped


  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup rice milk or water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  1. Place a large pot on medium heat.
  2. Place the oil in the pot and add the potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, ginger, garlic, salt, sherry, and herbs.
  3. Stir ingredients frequently to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  4. As the vegetables are cooking, mix the tamari, cornstarch and water in a separate cup, stirring until the powder is dissolved.
  5. Pour this mixture into the vegetable pot and continue stirring.
  6. Cook the vegetables on medium heat for about half an hour, until they begin to soften.

While the vegetables are cooking, make the topping:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder together.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and slowly add the oil, vinegar, and water.
  4. Carefully mix the wet ingredients together in the well until they are emulsified, then stir them into the flour mixture until a soft dough is formed. Set aside.
  5. After the vegetables have begun to soften, pour them into a large casserole dish.
  6. Crumble chunks of the dough over the top, covering the top evenly with the dough.
  7. Place in preheated oven and bake 20-25 minutes, until the dough turns a golden brown.

Serve warm. Serves 6 to 8. Modified from ExtraVeganZa, by Laura Matthias


  • 1 pound turnips, peeled and grated
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  2. Grease a 9X13 baking pan.
  3. In a bowl combine the turnips, onion, cornstarch, oregano, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spoon the vegetable mixture into the prepared pan, patting it down with a spoon.
  5. Drizzle the cream evenly over the top of the mixture, and then sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.

Serves 4 to 6. Modified from



  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 8 large cloves of garlic
  • 5 medium golden or red beets, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tart apples, peeled and sliced
  • Zest of 1 lemon, divided
  • Juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • salt and freshly ground pepper corns
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons fresh rosemary (or more), finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F.
  2. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to two roasting pans.
  3. Chop the onions into rounds and chop each clove of garlic into three or four large pieces. Divide the onions and garlic between the pans.
  4. Put the beets and apples into one pan and the sweet potato and potato chunks into the other pan.
  5. Add half of the lemon zest and juice to one pan and then half to the other.
  6. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste over the vegetables.
  7. Sprinkle at least one teaspoon of rosemary over each pan.
  8. Roast for approx 1/2 hour until the vegetables are cooked and a fork easily pierces the chunks.
  9. Combine the vegetables from both pans into a serving dish, mix to combine and serve.

Serves 6. Modified from



  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
  • 2 large carrots, cut into pieces
  • 1 rutabaga, cut into pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into pieces
  • 1 turnip, cut into pieces
  • 1 large onion cut into quarters
  • 1 cup water broth
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  2. In a bowl combine the salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir in olive oil.
  3. Rub both sides of brisket with seasoned olive oil.
  4. Heat a large skillet. Sear the brisket for 2 to 3 minutes on each side and then place it in a roasting pan with a lid.
  5. Scatter the onion, carrots, rutabaga, sweet potato and turnip pieces all around the brisket. Spread the ketchup over the top of the brisket and pour the water and wine over the top of the brisket and vegetables.
  6. Cover the pan with the lid and place it in the oven. Roast for 3 to 4 hours, basting the brisket with liquid in the pan every 45 minutes, until the brisket is really tender.
  7. Remove the brisket to a cutting board and let it cool for at least 20 minutes.
  8. Replace the lid on the pan to keep the veggies warm.
  9. Skim off any excess fat from the gravy and then slice brisket at a slight diagonal (across the grain).
  10. Serve with the vegetables and gravy.

Serves 4 to 6. Source unknown, from my files



  • 8 large potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup whipping cream or non dairy substitute
  • 1 tablespoon grated horseradish (or prepared horseradish) or more to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a pan cover the potatoes with water.
  2. Boil potatoes until tender (15 minutes or so depending on how many potatoes and how much water and how big the pot). Drain well.
  3. Add the butter, cream, and horseradish to the pan and mash well.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4 to 6. Source unknown, from my files

MY SWEET RUTABAGA PUREE (dairy or pareve)

  • 2 rutabagas peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 5 to 6 carrots cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt to taste
  • Ground pepper
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the rutabagas and carrots in until they are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Drain the vegetables and then purée them in a food processor with the butter, brown sugar until smooth (you may need to do this in batches).
  3. Return the puree to the pot, season with salt and pepper.
  4. You can heat it in the pot and then serve it or you can put the mixture in a greased 9X9 pan, sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top and heat it at 350 °F until the bread crumbs get toasted.

Unknown source, my files

PARSNIP BISQUE (dairy or pareve)

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 3 cup thinly sliced parsnips; (about 1 pound)
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper; to taste
  • 1 cup half and half or non dairy substitute
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  1. Melt the butter in a large pot.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the parsnips, potatoes, broth and thyme.
  4. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Uncover and, let cool for 20 minutes.
  6. Puree the vegetables and broth in 3 batches in a food processor.
  7. Return the batches to the pot and add the half and half. Mix to combine.
  8. If the soup it too thick add more broth.
  9. Heat to a simmer add the chopped parsley, mix to combine and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 8. Based on an recipe.

Certain produce requires careful examination and scrutiny for any bugs and insects. For more information, please visit : OU Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Chart

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Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen