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Winter Root Vegetables!

In the fall, when summer vegetables have withered in the garden and vanished from local farmstands and markets, I eagerly turn my attention to the bins of roots that start to appear at market. Knobby, gnarly, bulbous, shaggy—root vegetables may not be the beauty queens of the produce aisle, but they sure do reign supreme in the kitchen. Their flavors range from sweet and mellow to peppery and sharp to nutty and earthy. And their dense, dry flesh is the ultimate for cooking up soulful, satisfying cold-weather vegetable dishes, such as purées, gratins, soups, and roasted medleys.

Beets, Carrots, Parsnips, Rutabagas, Celeriac, Sweet Potatoes and Potatoes are all root vegetables.

Winter root vegetables are great keepers!

Unlike most above ground vegetables, winter roots store really well. When they grow to full maturity, root vegetables develop tough protective skins that keep them from spoiling during storage. This makes it easy to keep a stash on hand—something I find especially convenient when short days and cold winds make a trip to the market much less appealing.

Store root vegetables loosely in a bag in your refrigerator’s produce drawer. The idea is to keep them dry, cool, and in the dark. If there are greens attached, trim them off before storing; save any beet greens or turnip greens to cook separately. Don’t wash root vegetables before storing, as any moisture can promote spoilage. Expect them to last eight to twelve days before they begin to show any signs of deterioration. Rutabagas are often waxed and so will last closer to two weeks.

While rutabagas taste and behave a lot like turnips, they’re nuttier, less peppery, and creamier, which is why I prefer them in gratins. The easiest way to peel a rutabaga— especially a waxed one—is with a sharp paring knife. Use a very sharp knife or a mandoline to slice the rutabaga and potatoes. Creamy and comforting, this recipe for Potato and Rutabaga Gratin with Blue Cheese would be wonderful alongside any roast – chicken, pork or beef!

“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”
~W. Clement Stone

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