I’m generally not all that inspired to cook in the winter. Maybe it’s just the winter blues or lack of sunshine? Don’t know about you, but from a flavor standpoint, I find it hard to get excited about beets (and other winter roots). Visually, beets show off brilliant shades of pink, purple, red, yellow, and orange. I particularly love the look of the chioggia beets, aka candy cane beets, which are fittingly named for their unusual red and white striped interior.
However, as the winter drags on, after I’m up to my ears in recipes for soups and stews, I gradually lose my vigor in the kitchen. Around this time, mid-February, I eagerly await for spring’s arrival. But I suppose if you truly want to embrace what winter has to offer, then there’s got to be some talk of roots and other wintry things.
Given that not a whole lot is growing this time of year, with the exception of root vegetables that cleverly take cover from the cold by burrowing underground, it’s hard to ignore roots. Thus, since they’re plentiful and available this time of year, I feel compelled to give roots a chance. Although, beyond roasting them in the oven, pureeing them into soups, or adding copious amounts of butter and cream to get them to taste good, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do with root vegetables. Favorite root recipes? I’m all ears. Please share.
So what to do with this assortment of roots??
My assortment includes beets (red, yellow, and chioggia), celeriac, carrots (orange and purple), watermelon radish, burdock root, along with kohlrabi (kohlrabi is not a root; it grows above ground and is a member of the brassica family, along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.).
Went simple today, that is, a raw root vegetable slaw. This slaw has a pleasing freshness and crispness to it that I find appealing in the middle of winter. I julienned all the vegetables, including a couple of apples, and tossed them with a balsamic vinaigrette. In order to brighten up the slaw, I added fresh mint and fresh shiso leaves (if you can’t find shiso, use cilantro).
I also added smoked/roasted/shredded chicken to the slaw to make a meal out of it.
For a little crunch on top, I added spicy peanuts, which I tossed in smoked paprika, lime juice, olive oil, and chile (guajillo) pepper, and then roasted in the oven.
These peanuts are addictive and a great snack on their own. I nearly polished off the whole batch in a single sitting.
Root Vegetable Slaw
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)
Cut beets into 1/8-inch thin slices. Stack and cut into thin matchsticks. Repeat with the kohlrabi, watermelon radish, celery root (aka celeriac), carrots. Combine in a large bowl with the shiso (or cilantro) and mint.Dress the slaw. Season with salt and pepper. Let rest 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
1 clove garlic, minced
3 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon
drizzle of honey (optional)
Place the garlic on cutting board and sprinkle with coarse salt. With the flat edge of a chef’s knife, mash into a smooth paste. Place in a small bowl. Add the vinegar to the garlic paste. Season with pepper and whisk to combine.
Drizzle in the olive oil in a smooth stream, while whisking, to form a creamy emulsion. Add a squeeze of lemon juice (and drizzle of honey if using). Taste the dressing and adjust adding more lemon juice or vinegar to taste.
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 teaspoon chile powder (used guajillo)
Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Toss the peanuts with the lime juice, olive oil, smoked paprika, salt and chile powder. Spread the peanuts on the baking sheet. Bake until the coating is dry and spices are lightly toasted, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.