Love Me Some Rutabagas

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Root vegetables aren’t necessarily the sexiest selections in a grocery produce aisle. Encased in rough, dull winter coats, they don’t have the visual appeal of, say, a glossy heirloom tomato or a bright red bell pepper. However, their charms are considerable, and it seems unfair that they are often relegated to murky cold-weather stews and old Russian novels.

One of my favorite root vegetables is the parsnip, which I oven-roast with olive oil and a little salt for a delicious and wonderfully sweet side dish. I also love using beets in a simple recipe I discovered in the The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison: It calls for a pound of baked beets (I like using both red and yellow beets), which are composed into a lovely winter salad with watercress, toasted walnuts, sliced apples and currants, enlivened with a palate-reviving curry vinaigrette. My next foray into root vegetable cuisine will be with turnips – Julia Child (in The Way to Cook) exhorts the “glories” of hashed brown turnip cakes scattered with cubed ham and a poached egg. If it’s as marvelous as Julia promises, I’ll share the recipe.