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Get back to your roots: Fall root vegetables

While walking to class in a t-shirt on an October morning, you may be confused as to the current season. Are we in fall or a climate change induced extension of summer? When in doubt, check out coffee shop menus, which provide a more definitive answer than does the forecast. Pumpkin flavored coffee is coming back in vogue, as is carrot bread, carrot cake, and pumpkin pie. Still unsure? Visit local farmers markets, which are even more telling than flavored lattes and baked goods. Rest assured, the stands are stocked with the hallmark fall produce: root vegetables.


Root vegetables are some of fall’s greatest perks. They are cheap, versatile, and have long shelf lives in comparison to most produce. They aren’t needy – just a rough chop, olive oil, salt, pepper and a bout in the oven makes a delicious dish. The longer you cook them, the better they get. Roasting is virtually foolproof, so long as you don’t leave them in the oven for so long that they burn to a crisp or catch on fire. And per fellow Tasty Tuft writer Kit McDonnell’s suggestion, you can puree leftover roasted roots into a soup.

But roasting is only one of many ways to prepare these veggies. Just think of the myriad recipes, both sweet and savory, that utilize carrots! But the lesser-consumed roots are just as versatile as their more popular counterparts. Here are some recipes to encourage you to become equal opportunity root eaters:

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Parsnips (the carrot’s more mild, albino cousin): for a twist on the traditional potato latke, use a mixture of grated parsnips and potatoes.

Source: Bon Appetit

Source: Bon Appetit

Rutabaga (technically a cross between cabbage and turnip): when raw, the rutabaga is slightly bitter, crisp, and juicy. When cooked, it is slightly sweet and starchy. Combine with pear, ginger, and thyme to make a sweet and savory puree.

Source: NYTimes

Source: NYTimes

Beets (red or white): they are far more expensive than other root vegetables, so don’t throw out the tops if you decide to splurge. Instead, cook the greens as you would any other leafy vegetable – even a simple sauté would do the trick. The beets themselves, which are sweet, earthy, and surprisingly dense, work well in veggie burgers.

Lastly, I can’t help but to pay homage to sweet potatoes. Just cut them into thick strips, drizzle them in olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Put them into the oven and let them crisp up. In my opinion, baked sweet potato “fries” are better than classic sweet potato fries. Even Paula Deen acknowledges that frying and deliciousness are not mutually exclusive when it comes to sweet potatoes.

-Alison Sikowitz

Cover photo source.

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