I have hit the ground running with my expedition into the land of root vegetables. This week I have eaten celery root, parsnips, jerusalem artichokes, and there are even carrots sitting in my fridge. My first foray of the year into root vegetables was to try them simply – I wanted to taste their flavor, with mere accents to the palate rather than covering them up by drowning them in butter or cheese (as tempting and always tasty as that may be).
I believe in understanding the true flavor of an ingredient before getting too inventive with it – after all, what is the point of a food that cannot be tasted? How do you ever really know if you will like it or not if you cannot identify its inherent flavor? I think roasting vegetables is a great way to try new ones, because it’s an easy cooking process and yet still preserves the texture unlike boiling something forever. I grew up with enough over-boiled veggies (well, at least I consider them over-boiled) in my day to know that boiling is not my preferred method for cooking vegetables – well except maybe beans. So when I have no idea what I am going to do with something, oven-roasting is usually the route I tend to go.
This is celery root.
It was not my first time eating celeriac (celery root) – I first really fell in love with it as a mash, not too differently than one would make mashed potatoes. I already knew I liked celery root, because of its mild though slightly bitter celery flavor, and in fact I do think of it as a very large and ugly celery flavored potato of sorts.
This is a parsnip.
I’ve never deliberately chosen to eaten a parsnip until now. Maybe it’s because they look so much like carrots, my long standing nemesis (well, once they are cooked). I’m sure I’ve had them in dishes I’ve eaten in restaurants, etc., but this definitely marked the first time I’d ever actually bought any to cook and eat in my kitchen.
I figured combining the two root vegetables together in one dish would allow each of their flavors to come through but also blend together. And then I did what I usually do when it comes to roasting things – cut them up and dressed them with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic slices, thyme, chives and salt and pepper. How can one go wrong with a little citrus, garlic and herbs? That combination goes well with just about everything.
How did I like them? I actually think I prefer celery root as a mash – roasting it turned it a little too bitter for my taste. However the parsnips were fantastic. I have truly been missing out not cooking parsnips all these years, and you can bet they will find their way into my market trips from now on!
What new foods have you been trying lately?
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hourIngredients:
- 1 celery root, peeled and cubed
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cubed
- juice of one lemon
- a few sprigs of thyme
- a few chives, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- a glug or two of olive oil
- salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Add the cubed root vegetables to a bowl and toss with the other ingredients.
2. Lay the root veggies out on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven about 40 minutes (turning halfway inbetween) or until softened. Garnish with fleur de sel. Enjoy!