Dig, Clean, And Eat Your Roots

0912_roots_cookbook_cover

This cookbook was recently given to me as a gift and since receiving it, the book has become my go-to winter survival cookbook. A lot of the recipes are hearty, nourishing, informational and delicious. I say informational because while root veggies are common ingredients and can be found in anyone’s cooking repertoire, I’m just amazed at how many different types are available to us and how much they vary in taste, shape, size, and preparation, even storing them.

To go over a few basics “roots” can be broken down into the categories of true roots, which can either be tap roots or tuberous roots and then we have stem tubers, rhizomes, and corms. Under true roots, taproots, are the most common known vegetables we call ‘roots’ they vary in shape and size but all have a conical form to them. These are carrots, beets, celery root, burdock root, jicama, maca, parsnips, radishes, salsify, turnips, and rutabagas just to name a few. The other true roots are tuberous roots, which are enlarged roots that function as storage organs. They are sweet potatoes, yuca, kudzu, earthnut, yacon, and mauka.

The other tubers, stem tubers, are still “swollen underground storage organs however they have some components of rhizomes” and typically have a higher starch content. Stem tubers are potatoes, yams, oca, andean potatoes, and jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes.  A rhizomes is “a fleshy plant stem that spreads below the soil and forms leaves above with thin roots below”, most commonly known are ginger, arrowroot, turmeric, and licorice. Corms are “a short, swollen underground or underwater plant stem whose inner structure is made up of solid tissue” an example of corms are taro, water chestnuts, malanga, and arrowhead.

Each and every one of these root vegetables are unique and most certainly deserve some love and attention in your kitchen, so if any of them jump out at you or peak your interest, I highly recommend heading out to your health food store of local farmers market and pick up a new root veggie for dinner.

Today’s recipe comes from Diane Morgan’s cookbook Roots and we choose to highlight this recipes because sunchokes are just about to come into season here in the northeast.

Winter Greens Sunchoke Salad with Grainy-Mustard Vinaigrette

Dressing
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

10 oz. curly endive, torn into bite-size pieces
5 oz. baby arugula
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, cored, thinly sliced
8 oz. Jerusalem artichokes, peeled, thinly sliced
1 bunch radishes, tops trimmed, cut crosswise into paper-thin rounds
2 small carrots, peeled, trimmed, cut crosswise into paper-thin rounds
1/2 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds

1. For dressing, in a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, and salt. Season with pepper and whisk to combine. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the endive, arugula, fennel, jerusalem artichokes, radishes, and carrots. (The salad components can be assembled up to 2 hours in advance, covered with damp paper towels, and then covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until ready to serve.

3. Whisk the dressing briefly, then pour over salad. Toss gently, garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve.

*Notes and definitions from Roots.

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