Root vegetables and tubers are hearty, often sweet and nutritious containing a variety of nutrients. After all, they provide the plant with vital nutrients for growth. Winter months are a great time to serve roasted root and tuber vegetables because most of them are cooked and served hot and they are quite filling. They are a great side dish in cold weather. Examples of these vegetables are beets, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, potatoes and yams. They can be prepared by a variety of methods.
Roasting brings out the natural sweet flavor of vegetables while creating a crisp, golden outside and a soft center. Before roasting, vegetables should be rinsed and cut in uniform pieces for even cooking. Bite size pieces will cook faster than larger pieces. Vegetables should be tossed with a small amount of oil to lightly coat them and can be seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper, fresh or dried herbs or spices to taste.
The vegetables can be roasted in a baking dish or pan that has been lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray for easy clean up. Most vegetables will roast well in a 375- to 425-degree oven for 30 to 50 minutes or until tender and golden brown on the outside. If the rest of the meal is not ready to serve simply turn the oven off when the vegetables are done and they will hold nicely in the hot oven. Vegetables can also be roasted with a main dish such as chicken, pork or beef by adding to the main dish about 30 minutes before it is expected to be thoroughly cooked and ready to serve.
We chose to roast carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes with garlic bulbs and sage for our roasted vegetable medley.
Look for fresh carrots that are firm, well-shaped and with a bright orange color. If the tops are still attached they should be crisp. Avoid carrots that are soft or withered or show any signs of decay. There is no need to peel the carrots.
Choose turnips that are smooth, firm, well-formed, small to medium in size and heavy for their size and that have no indication of bruising or decay. Many people remove the skin but it is edible.
Fresh beets should be smooth-skinned, firm and small to medium in size. They range in color from red or purple to white. If the leaves are attached they should be deep green and crisp. The skin on beets is edible but should be well scrubbed.
Parsnips are shaped like carrots but are a creamy white color. They should be small to medium in size, firm, smooth and well-shaped. Avoid the large ones because they may have a woody core and avoid those with cracks.
There are many varieties of potatoes that can be roasted but all should be firm and smooth, with no wrinkles, sprouts, bruises, decay, cracks or bitter green areas.
Sweet potatoes range in color from pale skin with light yellow flesh to dark orange or red skin and flesh. They should be nicely shaped, firm and smooth with even-colored skins.
We chose to add garlic bulbs to our roasted vegetables for added flavor. Each garlic bulb is made up of many smaller cloves that are encased in tight papery white or pinkish skins. Choose plumb bulbs and avoid using cloves with brown spots or green sprouts.
Here's how we roasted our vegetables.
Roasted Vegetable Medley
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup carrots cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup turnips cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup beets cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup parsnips cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup potatoes cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup sweet potatoes cut in 1-inch chunks
3 garlic heads with outside papery skins removed but keep heads intact
• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• Cover an 8½ x 11 inch baking dish or pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with a nonstick cooking spray.
• Combine oil, sage and salt in a large bowl and stir to mix.
• Add chunks of carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes and garlic heads. Toss well to coat all pieces with oil mixture.
• Place vegetables in a single layer on aluminum foil on baking dish or pan.
• Bake for 30 minutes and turn. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender and golden.
• Separate cloves in garlic head and remove remaining papery skins before serving.
Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 6 one-cup servings. Each serving contains approximately 152 calories and 5 grams fat.
Serving Suggestion: Roasted vegetables make a wonderful side dish to serve with poultry, beef or pork. Choose your favorite vegetables to make interesting medley combinations.
Heart Healthy Choices
Becky will teach Heart Healthy Choices on Feb. 5 at 9:30 a.m. at Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell in Edmond. Class size is limited, call 302-6273 ext. 332 for reservations.