Root Vegetables: Tips, Tricks and Recipes

Just a few weeks ago, I tried something that I haven’t done on this blog before. I picked an ingredient, in that case fennel, and gave readers some tips, tricks and a few recipes for cooking the funny little vegetable. Rather than stopping with fennel, I want to try and wrote more of these types of posts, maybe not always with more difficult ingredients. Simple ingredients like carrots and potatoes, which may not cause folks difficultly, can use some tips and suggestions.

One of my most favorite meal that my mom cooks is standing rib roast with roasted potatoes. Sure the juicy roast beef is the star of this dish, but it is the basic roasted potatoes that might be my favorite part of the meal. How can potatoes, salt, pepper and oil taste so good? I’m not really sure, but they just do.

The title of this post is root vegetables, so let’s touch on a few other ones. Carrots, turnips, parsnip, radish. All of these can be grilled, roasted, pureed, but one of my favorite ways to cook carrots, parsnips and turnips is roasted with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. When cooked this way, they get a bit caramelized and sweet, especially from the balsamic.

Here are some of the main preparations and what you can do with each:

  1. Roasting- this is probably one of the easiest ways to cook these root vegetables. Cut up your veggies in medium 1″ pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, oil and any other herbs you may like (rosemary, oregano, paprika) and cook until tender. Simple preparations are often the best.
  2. Grilling– one thing I can’t do in my NYC apartment is grill. If I could, I really enjoy quickly boiling red potatoes and then grilled them. Brushed with oil as you cook, they are a great compliment to grilled lamb or burgers. Cutting a vidalia onion in half and grilling is so good, I’d eat it like an apple.
  3. Mashed- When people think of potatoes, most think mashed. But you don’t only have to mash potatoes. Mashed or pureed turnips can be a creamy alternative to potatoes and compliment a variety of meats. I’ve posted recipes for these in the past.
  4. Baked- the Vegetarian posted a recipe for a potato and cauliflower gratin. Making gratins with potatoes, sweet potatoes or even carrots, added to cheese and milk can be made in a large portion or baked as individual side dishes.
  5. Salads– potato salad can be prepared in countless ways…german potato salad, loaded baked potato salad, curried potato salad, the list goes on.
  6. Soup- I’ve posted one of my favorite soups from Julia Childs, Potato Leek Soup, and it has very few ingredients, but truly spectacular. You can also make a stew which includes a ton of root veggies like carrots, potatoes, onions and more.
  7. Fried- I left maybe the best for last. In the post before this one, I talked about staying away from fried foods. But YOU shouldn’t (well, maybe you should). Fried sweet potatoes fries, potato latkes (pancakes), waffle fries, the possibilities are endless.

Hopefully these methods will give you some more ideas to add to your existing repertoire. I did leave out beets, which I dislike, but they can be prepared in a variety of the above methods. Garlic is another root that I can’t live without, but should be added. There are numerous other roots burdock, daikon, yam, ginger that can all get it on the action, but I focused on the ones I thought could be more versatile.

Since I’ve posted a lot of recipes that I suggest above in the past, I will only post a couple quick methods (pictured above) to enjoy potatoes.

Basic Roasted Potatoes

2 pounds yukon gold potatoes (you could easily use others)
vegetable oil (or other types, not extra virgin olive)
large plastic bag

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and set rack in middle of oven.

Cut potatoes into small wedges. Place in plastic bag and add about 1-2 tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper. Close bag and shake to completely coat potatoes in oil.

Place potatoes onto a baking sheet covered with tin foil. Spread potatoes around in a single layer. Cook in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking every 15 minutes to stir to ensure all sides crispen. Cook until crispy brown, but not burned. Serve hot with your favorite dish. Enjoy!

Home Fries

~4-5 medium baking potatoes
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and the into small slices
1 small red pepper, 1/2″ dice
vegetable oil

In large skillet, heat oil in pan and add onions and pepper and cook over medium-low heat.

Prick potatoes with a fork and microwave for about 5-6 minutes (depending on microwave) until cooked. Remove and immediately cut in half. Continue to cut potatoes into small wedges.

When onions and peppers, after about 8 minutes, are softened, spread to sides of pan and add additional oil. Add potatoes and increase heat to high. Cook, undisturbed for 2-3 minutes and then mix to cook potatoes on all sides. Lower heat to medium and cook until eggs (however you like them) are ready to go. Serve with eggs and enjoy!

About Evan Halperin

I like to eat. I like to cook. I like to eat what I cook. Now, I will share with you what I like to cook. My wife and I may be a vegetarian and a carnivore, but it doesn’t mean we can’t cook a nice meal with both, without compromising taste. I will share my creative meals of the Carnivore and the Vegetarian.
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4 Responses to Root Vegetables: Tips, Tricks and Recipes

  1. Great tips! I love root vegetables. I had to LOL about the omission of beets — truly a love/hate veggie, huh? I just thought I’d toss out that raw beets (try in a spiralizer for beet “noodles”) are quite tasty!

  2. Haha yea, just not a fan of them. I’m trying to like them. I think its their staining color that really gets me

  3. Natasha says:

    have you ever attempted a stove top grillpan? maybe you have to have a flame for that to work? Let me know if you do–i am always seeing them on the food network, but have never braved one myself.

  4. I haven’t. I have a grill pan, but it is just meant for one burner. Would be nice to have one that stretched across 2 burners.

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