What to do with those winter vegetables?!

Celeriac? Burdock Root? Turnips? Parsnips?  What are these crazy things, how do we tell them apart, and what do we do with them?!

I've written before about the particular challenges, and pleasures, of seasonal winter cooking, but this time around, I armed myself with this knowledge and took it to the GreenHouse Make-Your-Own (MYO) Meal Night: Winter Vegetables Edition. Along with the knowledge, I took the following vegetables:
  • onions
  • kabocha squash
  • acorn squash
  • beets
  • sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes)
  • beauty heart radishes
  • sweet potatoes
  • potatoes
  • parsnips
  • turnips
  • celeriac
  • burdock root
So, the task was to take this mighty list and turn it, along with a few spices and complementary ingredients, into a full meal.

Here are the results, with recipes below. One of the good things about these recipes is that they can be modified for pretty much any winter root vegetables. Most of them are delicious grated with a vinaigrette as a salad, pureed into a soup, or roasted with or without cheese. Celebrating winter, even as spring is on the horizon!

Beet, Sunchoke, Beauty Heart Radish, White Bean, and Quinoa Salad in a Lemon Vinaigrette

Curried Squash Soup

Hearty, Cheesy Root Vegetable Gratin

Beet, Sunchoke, Beauty Heart Radish, Navy Bean, and Quinoa Salad in a Lemon Vinaigrette

3 beets
1 sunchoke
1 beauty heart radish
2 cups uncooked quinoa
1.5 cups navy beans
2 lemons
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
5 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Grate beets, sunchokes, radishes, using a food processor if you have one to speed the process. Cook the quinoa (directions here). Combine the vegetables, cooked quinoa, and drained beans in a large bowl. To make the vinaigrette, juice two lemons and, in a small bowl, combine the juice, olive oil, sugar, red wine vinegar, and the salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and adjust seasonings to taste. Serves 10-15 as a side dish.

Curried Squash Soup 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 pounds squash, cut into 1 inch cubes (I used kabocha and acorn, but others would work well)
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream, milk, or half-and-half

In a large, heavy pot melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, curry powder, salt, tumeric, cumin, and cayenne, and cook stirring, until fragrant, 45 seconds. Add the squash and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. With a hand held immersion blender, puree on high speed. Add the cream, stir and adjust the seasoning to taste. Serves 4-6.

(My modifications for this particular meal: I tripled the recipe--except the butter--because I was feeding a crowd, and it scaled up easily.  Because I wanted to speed the cooking process, I pre-baked the squash by simply chopping each one into quarters, scooping out the seeds, putting them on some baking dishes (cut side up) at around 400 degrees F until soft, around 30-45 minutes. Then I just scooped out the cooked squash from the peel, and added it to the soup along with the broth, and reduced the cooking time for the soup).

Hearty, Cheesy Root Vegetable Gratin
2 1/2 pounds assorted root vegetables, peeled and sliced into 1/4" rounds (I used 1 sweet potato, 1 potato, 1 large parsnip, 1 turnip, 1 6" burdock root, 1 small celeriac)
1 onion
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, oregano, and/or rosemary
1 cups grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
Some milk, half and half, or vegetable stock, to moisten

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 dish. Place the sliced vegetables in a large bowl, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the thyme, and toss together.
  2. Layer the vegetables in the gratin dish with the cheese.  Add the liquid until the dish is moist and you can see just a little liquid gather at the edges, season with more salt and pepper if you wish, and place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake 30-45 minutes, stirring or pressing the vegetables down with the back of your spoon every 10 minutes until the gratin is nicely browned, the vegetables are soft, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and serve.
(My modifications for this particular meal: I doubled the recipe and used two baking dishes.  Again, because I wanted to speed the cooking process, I pre-roasted the root vegetables by slicing them in a food processor, then putting them on some baking dishes with a little bit of water (for steaming) at around 400 degrees F until beginning to soften, around 30 minutes minutes. Then I layered the pre-cooked vegetables with the onions, herbs, and cheese, and it still took another 30-45 minutes of baking to get them as soft as I like them--melt in your mouth soft).


  1. Awesome! I've been making lots of stuff with root vegetables lately. In particular, blended soups - sautee onions, leeks, garlic, and the spices of your choice, pre-pressure cook whatever chunky veg you want (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and acorn squash are my usuals), then combine with water and seasonings, boil for a few minutes, and mix up with an immersion blender. You wind up with a thick, creamy, vegan soup in less than 20 minutes! And if you've got some leafy greens like spinach, chard, or kale that are starting to go bad, throw them in at the last minute for some interesting color and extra nutrition.

    Carrot-coriander, carrot-curry, pumpkin-curry, and potato-leek are my favorites.

    As for burdock, I had never heard of it until I came to Korea. Here, there's a process called "Jorim," which can be applied to burdock, lotus roots, beans, and nuts. You boil whatever you're using for a few minutes (until it's ready to absorb flavors) in water with a touch of vinegar, then cook in soy sauce, sugar/rice syrup, and a little bit of sesame oil. Drop on some crushed sesame seeds at the end and you've got a great side dish that can be kept refrigerated for several weeks.

  2. Oh how I wish we could make pureed soups and Jorim together! (wait, do you "make Jorim" or do you use "Jorim" to make food of some other name?) I'll have to try both of these on my lonesome...

  3. Oh, how I wish we could discuss food syntax together!

    You have two choices in Korean: you can "make potato jorim" or you can "jori some potatoes." The -m on jorim turns the verb "Jori" into a noun. "Jori-ing." English tends to be the other way around, with verbs descending from nouns. IE:

    I'm gonna go soupify some carrots.


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