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If you hadn’t noticed, the weather is changing, summer crops are pretty much done, and fall crops are in full swing. It is the perfect time of year to dig up those delectable treasures that have been hanging out underground, soaking up all kinds of nutrients. They may look a little rough, right out of the ground, but they are ready to bring their earthy flavors and health benefits to your autumn table. Give it up for root vegetables!

Basically we’re talking about potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas. Some of these have been available all season long in a series of harvests; and some need more time to mature to perfection. But all of them are characterized by their edible subterranean “fruit” and leafy above-ground tops. Their variety of colors and flavors hint at the rich nutrients they contain, and their dense flesh makes a great addition to all kinds of cold weather dishes — like this satisfying salad with salmon. 

Salmon & Roasted Vegetable Salad

From EatingWell, January/February 2010

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups cubed (1/2-inch) peeled root vegetables, such as potatoes, turnips, carrots and beets
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced anchovy fillet or paste
  • 8 cups mixed salad greens
  • 2 6- to 7-ounce cans boneless, skinless wild Alaskan salmon, drained and flaked
  • 2 scallions, sliced

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Toss root vegetables in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir and continue roasting until soft and golden brown in spots, 13 to 15 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, anchovy and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each pepper and salt in a large bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the dressing in small bowl. Add the salad greens to the large bowl and toss to combine; divide among 4 dinner plates.
  4. When the vegetables are done, transfer them to the large bowl and gently combine with the reserved dressing, salmon and scallions. Top the greens with the salmon and vegetables. Serves 4.

Cook’s Note: Prepare the dressing (Step 3), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Root vegetables lend themselves to soups and stews as well as baking and roasting. They even make a great snack when turned into chips! They hold their own or pair well with meat; hearty and soul-satisfying!

Root Vegetable Soup

Short Ribs with Root Vegetables

Root Vegetable Chips

Rib Eye with Horseradish Butter and Root Vegetables

Apple and Root Vegetable Hash

photos from Eating Well (above), Ryan Liebe for Martha Stewart Living (left), William Brinson for MSL (center), and MSL Special Issues (right).