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Chart: Know your roots

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



Root vegetables are considered the ugly ducklings of the vegetable world. But coaxing flavor from these frumpy finds is not only easy, it’s abundantly rewarding.

Beet

Tastes like: Sweet and almost candy-like. Slightly bitter stems offer an excellent alternative to more traditional greens.

How to prepare: The root may be peeled and steamed; roasted, seasoned with salt and pepper and wrapped in foil, or even shredded and eaten raw in salads. Stems of young plants can be briefly steamed or sauteed. With older plants, discard thick stems. Sear in fat with garlic or onion, add a bit of water or broth and simmer until tender. Finish with a touch of vinegar.

Storage: Remove stems and greens; wrap greens in plastic and store in refrigerator for several days. Store unwashed beets, with entire root end intact, in plastic bag in refrigerator for up to two weeks or in a cool, dark basement for two months or more.

Parsnip

Tastes like: Similar in texture and flavor to a carrot, but sweeter, particularly when cooked.

How to prepare: Peel and boil, steam or roast.

Storage: Store unwashed and wrapped in paper towel and plastic in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Rutabaga

Tastes like: A cross between turnips and cabbage.

How to prepare: Peel and roast root portion at a high temperature, or steam or boil and mash solo or with other root vegetables. The greens may be prepared like spinach: sauteed or even mashed into boiled roots. The greens also may also be eaten raw, provided you don’t mind their bitter edge.

Storage: Cut tops off just above root and store in refrigerator in plastic bag for about two weeks, or in a dark, cool basement, unwashed and well-ventilated, for a few months. Store greens as you would beet greens.

Turnip

Tastes like: Similar to a potato (cooked) or radish (raw). Greens are similar to chard or mustard greens in flavor, with a bit of a bitter edge.

How to prepare: Peel and roast, steam or boil; add to soups and stews. Young ones can be eaten raw in salads like radishes. Well-cleaned greens (tough stems removed) can be flash-sauteed and then slow-boiled, covered, in water or broth until tender and less bitter.

Storage: Store as you would rutabagas and parsnips.

Jennifer Olvera



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