Smashing Roots

smashed roots tastefoodMashed Sweet Potato, Rutabaga, Celery Root

Root vegetables are sadly underrated. The lowly unsung root is, in fact, a storehouse of nutrients, natural sugars, and starch, and a very healthy and flavorful substitute for the ubiquitous russet potato. It’s also a delicious and simple way to get your daily dose of vitamins during the cold weather season. A peel of the skin reveals a rainbow of anti-oxidant-rich colors ranging from magenta to ochre to buttery yellow, guaranteed to brighten a gray day – and your holiday table. I used sweet potato, celery root and rutabaga for this mash. You can add other roots, such as parsnip, carrot, and the handy russet potato to the mix as well. Be sure to choose a variety for a balance of  sweetness and nutty creamy flavor.

Smashed Roots

I use a combo of sour cream and Greek yogurt in this mash, which creates a little naughty richness and a little tangy lightness. So long as you use a combined amount of 1 cup, you can opt for all of one or the other.

3 pounds mixed roots (such as 1 pound each of sweet potato, celery root, and rutabaga)
Salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper

Peel the root vegetables and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place the vegetables in a large pot with 2 teaspoons salt and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender. Drain the vegetables and return them to the pot; cool 5 minutes. Add the garlic, butter, sour cream, and yogurt. Smash with a potato masher until the ingredients are blended and the the mash is your desired consistency (I like mine a little chunky). Add salt to your taste and a generous amount of pepper. Spoon into a serving bowl and serve warm.

Prepare ahead:
The mash may be prepared up to 1 day in advance of serving. Cool completely and transfer to a buttered, deep gratin dish. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove from them refrigerator 1 hour before serving. To reheat, heat the oven to 325°F. Dot the top of the mash with about 1 tablespoon of diced butter and cover with foil. Bake in the oven until heated through, 30 to 40 minutes.

Winter Root Soup with Celeriac and Parsnip

winter root soup

This rich and velvety soup will have you guessing it’s laden with cream. Well, guess again. A thick puree of celeriac (celery root) and parsnip is evened out with milk and chicken stock, providing a light and smooth yet surprisingly rich soup.  If you haven’t tried celeriac, it’s time you did. Don’t let its gnarly exterior dissuade you – the inner meat is nutty with mild celery notes. When cooked, its flavor is mellow and sublime, which provides a nice balance to the sweet and earthy parsnip. Thyme and garlic round out the flavors of this slurp-worthy bowl of soup which promises to keep you warm and sated in the cold weather.

Parsnip and Celery Root Soup
Serves 4 to 6.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 pound parnsips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 pound celery root, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup whole milk plus more to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent without coloring, about 3 minutes. Add the parsnips, celery root, and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Carefully transfer the soup to a food processor (or use an immersion blender) and purée until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Add the milk, salt, and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add more milk to your desired consistency. Gently heat over medium-low heat until hot and taste for seasoning. Serve hot.

Root Vegetable Mash

mashMashed Sweet Potato, Celery Root and Rutabaga

Root vegetables are winter’s best kept secret. Packed with nutrients, natural sugars and starch, the lowly root is a healthy and flavorful substitute for the ubiquitous potato, and a superb way to get your vitamins and nutrients in the cold weather season. A good peel of skin reveals a rainbow of colors ranging from magenta to ochre to creamy white, sure to brighten any dreary winter day – and your holiday table. Feel free to mix and match roots, such as sweet potato, parsnip, rutabaga, carrot, celery root, and of course the dependable russet, to your taste and preference.

Root Vegetable Mash

Choose a balance of sweet and savory roots for even flavor (I used 1 pound each of sweet potato, celery root and rutabaga) and mash to your desired consistency. I like to leave my roots a little chunky for a more rustic presentation.

3 pounds mixed roots
Salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper

Peel the root vegetables and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook until vegetables are tender and easily pierced with a fork. Drain and return to the pot. Let cool 5 minutes. Add the garlic, butter, sour cream, and yogurt. Mash with a potato masher or in a food mill to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a serving bowl and serve warm.

Prepare ahead: The mash may be prepared up to 1 day in advance of serving. Cool completely and transfer to a buttered, deep gratin dish. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Preheat oven to 325°F. Dot the top of the mash with 1 tablespoon butter and cover with foil. Bake in oven until heated through, 35 to 45 minutes.

Cauliflower Purée

Cauliflower Purée

~ Cauliflower, Celery Root, Garlic, Thyme ~

Looking for a simple side that’s light and fluffy but not mashed potatoes? This Cauliflower Purée is airy and delicate, a blend of cauliflower and celery root. One potato is added to the mix for a touch of heft and a little starch to prevent the purée from becoming a thick soup. The result is a refined side dish that is a wonderful accompaniment to fish, meat and winter stews.

Cauliflower Purée

The celery root, also known as celeriac, is mildly redolent of celery, and nicely balances the nutty and sweet notes of the cauliflower. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 medium celery root, peeled, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 large russet potato, peeled, chopped in 1 inch pices
Bouquet garni: 3 thyme sprigs and 1 bay leaf tied in cheesecloth
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in large pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Thyme sprigs as garnish

Combine cauliflower, celery root, potatoes and bouquet garni together in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until all of the vegetables are very tender. Drain and discard bouquet garni. Transfer to a food processor. Add garlic and butter and purée until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to blend. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm, garnished with thyme.

Winter Warmth: Celery Root and Parnsip Soup

Winter Warmth: Celery Root and Parnsip Soup

Celery root and parsnip team up in this soup with light yet luxurious results. The sweet earthiness of the parsnip grounds the subtle notes of the celeriac, adding depth without overpowering. The two root vegetables mingle and simmer in a simple concoction of chicken stock and thyme until they are soft enough to purée into a thick soup. You might find yourself tempted to call this soup creamy, but no cream is present – that is unless you feel like adding a splash for extra richness. (It’s the holiday season, after all!)

Celery Root and Parsnip Soup

Substitute a little cream for some of the chicken stock after puréeing for an even richer and more luxurious soup. Serves 4.

1 tablepoon olive oil
1 small celery root, about 1 pound, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 large parsnip, about 1/2 pound, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 garlic clove
3-4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat olive oil in a pot or deep skillet. Add celery root, parsnip and garlic clove. Sauté until fragrant and vegetables begin to soften without coloring, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken stock and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 30 minutes. Carefully transfer in batches to bowl of a food processor, or use an immersion blender, and purée soup until smooth. Return to pot. Add additional 1 cup chicken stock  or enough for desired consistency. (Optional: Replace 1/2 cup stock with heavy cream.) Stir in pepper and salt; heat through. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

~ Comfort in a bowl: Braised short ribs, celery root and red wine –

Rich meaty stews fortified with wine are the kitchen’s answer to wet and frosty weather. Simmered over hours, sometimes even days, the aromas of beef, wine and spice mix and mingle, concocting delicious aromas that fill the kitchen and soothe the soul. It draws us in to its embrace, tantalized by the warmth and promise of the meal to come. We are hungry yet content in the knowledge that the wait will be well worth it.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Cold weather stews coincide with an abundance of of root vegetables and sturdy tubers, stalwart allies in the fall and winter season. Celery root is the secret ingredient in this recipe, adding depth to the stock with mellow celery notes. Serves 6-8.

5 pounds short ribs
Salt
Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 cup diced celeriac (celery root) in 1/4 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup whiskey
3 cups red wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried coriander
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Salt and pepper the short ribs. If you have time, refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before proceeding. (Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before browning.)
Preheat oven to 325 F. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add short ribs in batches without overcrowding. Brown well on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining short ribs. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot. Add onion, carrot, celery, celeriac and garlic. Cook, stirring up any brown bits in the pan, until vegetables begin to soften, 3 minutes. Carefully add whiskey. Bring to a boil and cook until whiskey has nearly evaporated. Add wine, stock, tomato paste, bay leaves, coriander, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Return the ribs to the pot with any collected juices. Bring to a boil. Cover pan and place in oven. Bake until the short ribs are very tender, about 3 hours. Remove from oven. Cool; refrigerate overnight.
One hour before serving, remove short ribs from refrigerator. Remove collected fat on surface of the stock. The stock will be congealed. Heat over low heat to liquify. Remove the short ribs and vegetables with a slotted spoon.* Separate the meat from the bones and discard the  bones. Bring stock to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until sauce has reduced by half. Return beef and vegetables to the stock and heat through.

*Note: If you wish to fancify the stew, remove only the beef from the reheated stock. Boil the stock with vegetables until reduced. Strain the stock through a fine meshed sieve, pressing down on solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Return beef to strained stock and discard solids.
Sauté additional carrots and rutabaga in olive oil until crisp tender. Add to the stew along with blanched and peeled pearl onions. Simmer until all the vegetables are cooked through.

Sweet and Red Potato Mash

Sweet and Red Potato Mash

~ Sweet Potatoes, Red Bliss Potatoes and Celery Root Mash ~

It’s the time of year for soft and fluffy things. This applies to our food as well as our clothes.  As we wrap ourselves in wool and light the fire, we contemplate sating meals to comfort and fill our bellies. This simple side will do just that. Sweet and red potatoes are smashed together with celery root in a rustic rendition of fluffy mashed potatoes. Faintly sweet with potato and redolent of roasted garlic, this savory side is mellow and rich, promising to warm us as much on the inside as our fleece is protecting us on the outside.

Sweet and Red Potato Mash

Whole milk Greek style yogurt adds body and creaminess without excess fat to the potatoes. If you prefer extra richness, substitute sour cream for the yogurt. Serves 4-6.

2 pounds red potatoes with skin, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 pound sweet potato, peeled, cut in 1 inch pieces
1/2 pound celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, divided
Salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Sage leaves for garnish

Combine potatoes and celery root in a large pot. Peel and smash 3 garlic cloves. Add to the pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are very soft. Drain. Return to pot and cool slightly. Mince the remaining garlic and add to the potatoes. Add butter and yogurt. Mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. Stir in cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, garnished with chopped sage leaves.