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an array of root veggies

Recipes in this collection:

Braised Daikon Miso Soup  •  Carrot “Chorizo” Tacos  •  Sunchoke and Brussels Sprout Salad  •  Creamy Roasted-Garlic Gnocchi  •  Maple Sweet-Potato Crème Brûlée

I try to eat with the seasons. Sure, I crave the occasional midwinter cantaloupe, but for the most part, I prefer to stick to produce that’s at the height of its natural growing season — and, ideally, available from farmers in my community. In the winter months, that means root vegetables.

They may not win any beauty contests, but taproots and tubers are the perfect nourishing cold-weather staples. Often the most nutrient-dense part of a plant, roots are full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and carotenoids — natural pigments that can reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and even fight cancer.

Some of my favorite root veggies have a long litany of unsung health benefits. Sweet potatoes can support skin and eye health; garlic can help lower blood pressure and prevent the common cold. Radishes have natural antifungal properties. Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, are a great source of gut-balancing inulin, and nutrient-packed carrots can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve brain health.

Whether roasted or raw, starchy root vegetables are incredibly versatile ingredients that transform savory and sweet dishes. You won’t find any plain mashed potatoes here: Instead, these recipes use veggies in surprising ways that’ll brighten your plate on even the dreariest winter day.

Braised Daikon Miso Soup

miso soup

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 45 minutes

  • 1 large (or 2 medium) fresh daikon radishes
  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbs. tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos
  • 2 tbs. mirin
  • 3 tbs. white miso paste
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 large bunch beet greens (or greens of choice)
  • ¼ cup minced scallions
  • Sriracha sauce, to garnish (optional)
  1. Peel the daikon and slice into 1-inch-thick rounds. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, sauté the garlic and ginger until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tamari, mirin, miso, 2 cups water, and broth, and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the daikon pieces to the simmering broth, then turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Braise the daikon until tender, about 40 minutes.
  3. Divide the soup among bowls and keep the pot over low heat. Add the remaining ­water and greens to the pot, and stir until the greens are wilted. Use a slotted spoon to add some greens to each bowl, and top the soup with scallions and sriracha to taste.

Carrot “Chorizo” Tacos

tacos

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 20 minutes, plus four hours of ­inactive marinating time
•  Cook time 40 minutes

“Chorizo”

  • 4 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbs. dried oregano
  • 1½ tbs. cumin
  • ⅛ tsp. allspice
  • ⅛ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tbs. paprika
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. chipotle powder
  • Chili powder to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Tacos

  • 1 cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1 habanero (or pepper of choice), seeds removed and finely diced
  • ⅛ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 lime
  • White corn tortillas
  • 4 tsp. sour cream
  • ¼ cup queso fresco
  1. In a blender, purée 2 cups of the carrots and the celery ribs with the water until smooth. Scoop the mixture into a mesh sieve, pressing the solids to encourage the liquid to drain out.
  2. Reserve the liquid for another purpose (or drink it — it’s delicious!). Add the pulp to a medium bowl with the remaining carrot shreds. Add the seasonings and olive oil, and mix well to combine. Cover and marinate overnight or for at least four hours.
  3. Cook the carrot mixture in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, frequently scraping the bottom of the pan, until edges begin to brown and crisp, about seven to 10 minutes.
  4. Toss the cucumber and habanero with the salt and juice from half of the lime. Lightly toast the tortillas on the stovetop until they’re warm and soft. Assemble the tacos by spreading about a teaspoon of the sour cream on each tortilla; add a scoop of the carrot chorizo, and top with the cucumber slaw and queso fresco. Serve with additional lime wedges, if desired.

Sunchoke and Brussels Sprout Salad

sunchoke and brussels sprouts

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 15 minutes •  Cook time 15 minutes

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup pearl couscous, dry
  • 3 large (or 6 small) sunchokes, peeled
  • 12 to 20 Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta
  • Sea salt, to taste
  1. In a medium pot, bring the water and 1 teaspoon olive oil to a boil, then add the couscous. Cover and lower the heat to simmer. Cook until the couscous is tender and the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool or pour into a colander and rinse with cool water.
  3. While the couscous is cooking, use a mandoline or sharp knife to thinly slice the sunchokes and Brussels sprouts.
  4. In a blender or food processor, combine the mint, remaining olive oil, garlic, mustard, honey, and juice of the lemon. Pulse until emulsified and smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts, sunchokes, couscous, and dressing. Top with the feta. Salt to taste and serve.

Creamy Roasted-Garlic Gnocchi

garlic gnocci

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 35 minutes •  Cook time 45 minutes

Roasted garlic

  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Gnocchi

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature

Sauce

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1½ tbs. minced fresh sage
  • 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbs. minced fresh parsley

To Begin: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roasted Garlic:

  1. Cut the top off each head of garlic to expose the cloves.
  2. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each head and wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Place in a baking dish and roast until cloves are soft and golden, about 35 minutes.
  3. Once cooled, squeeze softened cloves into a bowl.

Gnocchi:

  1. while garlic is roasting, place unpeeled potatoes in a pot with enough cool water to cover them by a few inches. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft and easy to pierce with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes and set aside until cool enough to handle, but still warm. Use a paring knife to remove the skins. Mash potatoes with a ricer or food processor, being careful not to over-process, which will turn the potatoes gummy. Let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flours and salt. Add cooled potatoes and lightly beaten egg. Knead with your hands until a sticky dough forms.
  4. Put a large pot of water on to boil and divide dough into fist-sized pieces. On a well-floured surface, roll each piece into a long tube, then cut into inch-long pieces and place on a parchment-lined tray. Using a floured fork, press down gently on each piece of gnocchi to create ridges.
  5. Add gnocchi to boiling water and allow to cook for two to three minutes. As the gnocchi float to the surface, skim them off and place in a colander to drain while you make the sauce. Reserve 2 cups of the water.

Garlic Sauce:

  1. in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sauté shallot and sage until fragrant, about one minute. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, three to five minutes.
  2. Add ½ cup chicken broth and Parmesan cheese. Turn heat to low and stir until cheese melts.
  3. Add heavy cream and remaining broth. Stir in salt, pepper, and roasted garlic. If sauce is too thick, add reserved gnocchi water a few tablespoons at a time until it reaches a creamy consistency.

To Serve: Toss gnocchi in sauce, then top with minced parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice to serve.

Maple Sweet-Potato Crème Brûlée

vegan creme brulee

Makes 4 servings •  Prep time 35 minutes •  Cook time 40 minutes, plus cool overnight or for at least six hours

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • ½ tbs. cane sugar (plus more for crust)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prick the sweet potato’s skin all over with a fork. Place sweet potato on a sheet pan and roast until tender, approximately 35 minutes. Let cool, then peel and pulse in a food processor until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip egg yolks, egg, and ½ tablespoon sugar until pale and the mixture drips in ribbons from the beaters, about five minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together sweet potato purée, cream, vanilla, and maple syrup. Add the sweet potato mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Adjust oven temp to 300 degrees F.
  6. Distribute the custard evenly between four shallow ramekins. Place ramekins inside a deep casserole dish and carefully pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  7. Transfer to oven and bake for 40 minutes or until custard barely jiggles when moved. Allow to cool in the water bath for 30 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool overnight or for at least six hours.
  8. Just before serving, cover the surface of the custard with a thin, even layer of cane sugar. Use a brûlée torch to melt it, or place on a baking sheet on top rack of oven and broil on high, turning roughly every 30 seconds for five to seven minutes, until dark golden brown and bubbling.

This article originally appeared as “Rooting for Vegetables” in the January/February 2024 issue of Experience Life.

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Photography: Terry Brennan; Food Styling: Betsy Nelson
Kate
Kate Morgan

Kate Morgan is a Pennsylvania-based writer and recipe developer.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Do you have recipes that use three to five ingredients? Your recipes look delicious, but there is no way I would consider making any of them. I am interested in recipes that are quick and easy. Thanks.

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