Cooking in the Cave: Chef Jeff revisits the root

There is nothing quite like a pan of dark, richly browned root vegetables.

They absorb every lingering flavor of the juices from whatever else you may be roasting and perfectly complement a chicken, leg of lamb, or anything else large and meaty.

Root vegetables are peasant food in the most glorious sense—rich, rustic, simple and intensely flavored.

Now granted, a few million starving medieval peasants might disagree, and I might agree with them after a few years of nothing but potatoes with only the occasional turnip and a sprinkling of misery to liven things up.

But, thanks to industrial scale agriculture, we get to enjoy them as the French (our culinary lords and saviors) intended—with meat, butter and herbs.

I have admittedly written on this topic before, two years ago for the online edition. And in no way do I wish to diminish the gratitude I have to all three of the people who likely read it.

But I feel that the noble root is worthy of still more coverage.

It is winter after all, when root vegetables are at their best.

The root is emblematic of winter—the rich savoriness, the caramelized sweetness of a perfectly roasted carrot, potato or parsnip.

Most think of potatoes if they think of the poor root at all. But as much as I love the tuber, there is infinitely more that the root family offers.

A pan of carrots and parsnips, fennel and celery root, gently roasting, caramelizing with nothing but salt, pepper and olive oil is nothing short of sublime.

Experiment with the root vegetable, I beg you.

Walk through the aisles of a market and find something root-like, and I’ll bet that with enough heat and a roasting hunk of meat, it will taste unexpectedly good.


Roasted Carrots and 

Parsnips with Sage

8 carrots, cut into 1 in. pieces

4 parsnips, peeled and cut into ½ in. cubes

1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1 in. cubes

12 large sage leaves, finely minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the sage, parsnips, carrots and celery root with the oil and sage. Salt and pepper the mixture heavily.

Roast the vegetables in a heavy ceramic or glass roasting pan—or in the pan with any sort of hearty roasted meat—for 45 min. or until the vegetables are soft and browned.

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