Cooking ROots

Being from Arizona I didn't eat a lot of roasted roots growing up. Sure we had potatoes and carrots but it wasn't until I went to Whistler Canada in the freezing month of February that I had a dish of roast roots, or turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets, and onions all roasted together into a wonderful hot and hearty sustaining meal. Now roasted roots are a regular on our winter menu.

Turnips, Rutabagas and Parsnips contain nutrients to maintain good health and magickal properties to banish negative energy, repel unwanted quests, and ward your home. While I most often simply chop them and drizzle with olive oil then roast in a 400 degree oven, occasionally I will make them into a fancier dish.

Maple Glazed Roots

You will need:

1 Tablespoon butter

2 pounds mix of turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips, trimmed and sliced

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

coarse salt ground pepper

2 Tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, melt butter. Add roots and cook until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add broth, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a slow simmer. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook over medium to reduce liquid 7 to 9 minutes more. Roots should now be tender. Remove skillet from heat and add butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Rich and Hearty Root Vegetable Gratin

This hearty and beautiful dish combines the earthy flavors of beets, parsnips, and rutabagas with the rich flavor of Gruyère cheese for a deliciously creamy gratin.

You will need:

1 pound beets, thinly sliced

1 pound parsnips, thinly sliced

1 pound turnips or rutabagas, thinly sliced

3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup shallots, thinly sliced

1 1/3 cups milk, divided

3 Tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, cut into strips

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs, (see *)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Wash, trim, and peel the roots. Then slice into 1/8-inch-thick slices. A mandolin slicer makes this easy. Cook root slices in a large pot of boiling water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 Tablespoons oil. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 cup milk and bring to a simmer. Combine flour and the remaining 1/3 cup milk in a small bowl to make a smooth paste. Then stir the milk paste into the hot milk. Cook while whisking constantly until the sauce begins to simmer and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 3/4 cup cheese, thyme, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs, the remaining cheese and 1 Tablespoon oil. Layer the vegetable slices in the prepared baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the top and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake the gratin until it is bubbling and the top is golden, about 30 minutes.

*To make fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from country-style whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup crumbs.