Lean into Winter with Root Vegetable Fries

Roasted Root Vegetable FriesRoasted Roots

When it’s cold and gray outside, it’s the season for root vegetables. We can count on our not-so-fair weather friends to usher us through the frigid months, gracing our tables and fortifying our diets with their sweet, nutrient-rich roots. These winter work horses are storehouses of energy, flavor and natural sugar – guaranteed to brighten up your plate and palate on a dreary chilly day.

In this recipe, root vegetables replace the ever-popular russet potato, and while they are called “fries” they are, in fact, oven roasted, so you can feel virtuous while you scarf down a batch. Mix and match your favorite roots and spices to your taste. If you can get your hands on purple sweet potatoes, give them a try – they have a slightly spiced and earthy flavor, and remain firm while roasting. As for peeling, I prefer to leave my organic root vegetables unpeeled, and simply give them a good scrub, since their skins are a wonderful source of nutrients and flavor. Roast one root vegetable or choose a variety for striking color. I like to use a combination of parsnips, carrots, celery root, rutabaga, and sweet potato.

Roasted Root Vegetable Fries

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds root vegetables, such as parsnips, carrots, celery root, rutabaga, and sweet potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dipping Sauce:
3/4 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the root vegetables into 2-inch batons, about 1/3-inch thick. Place in a large bowl. Add the oil and generously season with salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly coat.
2. Spread the vegetables in one layer on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast on the lowest rack of the oven until golden brown on the bottoms, about 15 minutes. Move the baking sheet to the top rack of the oven and roast until tender and golden brown on top, about 15 more minutes. (If desired, turn on the broiler for the last few minutes of roasting.)
3. While the vegetables are roasting, whisk dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
4. Serve the fries warm with the dipping sauce.

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.

Roasted Root Vegetable Fries

root fries

If you have a hankering for fries, try these spiced and roasted root fries for a healthy alternative. Switch out the go-to potato for nutrient-rich roots and tubers, such as sweet potato, rutabaga, carrot, and turnip. Mix and match the selection to your taste, but go for a colorful array, guaranteed to brighten your dinner plate. Slow roasting them will coax out the natural sugars which will encourage browning and slight caramelization, without the added fat of deep frying. Serve with a cooling yogurt dip spiked with Sriracha – not too heavy, low in fat, big on flavor. So, go on and indulge in this healthy winter snack and consider it a virtuous start to the new year.

Roasted Root Vegetable Fries
Leave the skin on the baked potato for extra nutrients and texture. If you can get your hands on purple sweet potatoes, give them a try – they maintain their firmness during roasting which makes for a great fry.

Serves 4 to 6

2 1/2 pounds assorted root vegetables, such as sweet potato, rutabaga, carrot, parsnip
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sriracha Yogurt Dipping Sauce:
1 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the root vegetables into 2-inch batons, about 3/8-inch thick. Place in a large bowl. This the oil, salt, cumin, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the vegetables and stir to evenly coat.

Spread the vegetables in one layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven until browned on the bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Move the baking sheet to the top rack of the oven and bake until golden brown on top and tender but not limp, about 20 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, whisk the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve the fries with the sauce for dipping.

Baked Root Vegetable Fries

root veg fries tastefood

You can have your fries and still feel virtuous with these colorful roots. Give the russet potato a well-deserved break, and substitute carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, or sweet potato for the ubiquitous spud. As their name implies, root veggies are the roots of growing plants, which means that they are storehouses of energy and nutrients. Not only that, they are jammed with pent up flavor and natural sugars, which translates to sweet, earthy, nuttiness on the plate.

Mix and match your favorite roots and spice to your taste. Simple salt and pepper is always a winner, or spice them up with a zesty mixture of cumin, paprika, and cayenne. And yes, you can have your dipping sauce too without tipping the scales. Try a cool and creamy Greek yogurt sauce infused with garlic and chipotle for a smoky, low fat and highly addictive sauce. Alternatively, ditch the sauce and ramp up the garlic notes with a zesty lemon, garlic and parsley gremolata.

Baked Root Vegetable Fries 
Serves 4 to 6

1 large parsnip
1 large carrot
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium rutabaga
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chipotle Sauce:
3/4 cup Greek whole milk yogurt
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Lemon Gremolata:
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the root vegetables in 2-inch batons, about 3/8-inch thick. Place in a large bowl. Add the oil,  salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread in one layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake on the lowest rack of the oven until browned on the bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Move the baking sheet to the top rack of the oven and bake until golden brown on top, about 20 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, whisk the chipotle sauce ingredients in a small bowl if using. Serve the fries with the sauce for dipping.

Alternatively, remove fries from oven and toss with the gremolata ingredients.

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.

Sunday Supper: Braised Short Ribs and Sweet Potato Mash

~ Braised and Glazed Beef Short Ribs ~

Never mind that September is the “real” summer in San Francisco. As you may know, in the Bay area our summer months are characterized by mist and fog and accessorized with fleece. September and October are the glorious weather months, brandishing golden sunshine, warm days and air as soft as butter.

Even still.

Once school starts up and Labor Day is crossed off the calendar, I can’t help myself. I start fingering my woolies, eyeing the fireplace, and reaching for my Dutch-oven. Sundays become slow-food days, meant for braises, stews and roasts, accompanied by squidgy mashes and bubbling gratins, with the aroma of meat and spice wafting through the house. It may be warm outside in San Francisco, but the smells of fall are in the air – and in the kitchen.

Braised and Glazed Short Ribs
Serves 4 to 6

8 4-inch short ribs with bone, 3 1/2 – 4 pounds
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium daikon radish, peeled and chopped, about 1 cup
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 750-ml. bottle full-bodied red wine
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup soy sauce

Heat oven to 325 F (170 C). Sprinkle the short ribs all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy oven-proof pot with lid over medium-high heat. Brown the short ribs on all sides, in batches, without overcrowding the pan. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot. Add onion, carrot, daikon and garlic. Sauté over medium-high heat, scraping up brown bits, until vegetables brighten in color and begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add paprika, cumin, coriander and chili powder. Sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to blend. Return short ribs to the pot, submerging in the wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes to allow the alcohol to burn off. Remove from heat and cover. Transfer pot to oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove pot from oven and increase oven temperature to 425 F. Transfer short ribs to a roasting pan or baking dish. Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Brush the meat with the reduced sauce. Place roasting pan in oven and roast ribs until they are glazed and beginning to crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve with Sweet Potato Mash.

If you like this, you  might enjoy these recipes:
Beer-Braised Chipotle Short Ribs from TasteFood
Korean-Braised Short Ribs from Appetite for China
Beef Bourguignon from TasteFood
Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Ginger and Scallion Beef from Rasa Malaysia

Adult Spaghettio’s: Anelletti with Bacon, Peas and Sweet Potato

Adult Spaghettio’s: Anelletti with Bacon, Peas and Sweet Potato

~ Anelletti, Bacon, Sweet Potato, Peas, Sage, Parmigiano ~

This recipe is a celebration of bacon. Not just any bacon, but a wedge of my own home-cured bacon: a wicked habit I developed after a year of making my own charcuterie courtesy of Charcutepalooza. Since then, I always have a stash of bacon on hand, portioned from a hefty slab I cure every few months.

Once again I found myself this week at the dinner hour when I hadn’t shopped and the refrigerator was bare. (How does this happen when I cook and write about food?)  In this situation, an easy improvised pasta dinner is on the menu. Naturally, I reached for a hunk of bacon, cubed and fried it, rendering a slick of fat. Normally I would discard the fat and proceed from there, but since it was my own bacon, I wasn’t ready to part with it, preferring to celebrate it somehow, so I dumped a chopped sweet potato unearthed from the vegetable bin into the pan, frying the potato until glistening and tender. Not quite finished, I gave a few semi-wilted sage leaves a reprieve (I said my refrigerator was empty) and fried them until crisp. Now I was ready to discard the bacon fat, all but a tablespoon, which I used to sauté a little garlic and and a handful of peas just long enough to release the garlic’s aroma and brighten the peas.  Then all of the ingredients, redolent with bacon, converged in a bowl with a wonderful pasta I discovered in my pantry, smuggled home from a long-ago trip to Italy. I call them adult spaghettio’s.  Continue Reading Anelletti with bacon, Peas and Sweet Potato