It’s November here in the Seattle area, which means the coffee is on full time and it’s dark before we get home from work. It means I want comfort food. It means I want food that’s roasted long and slow, with a nice crisp crust and sweet bite. What is perfect for this time of year? Root vegetables!
My favorite food from childhood is French fries. My sister worked at McDonald’s, beginning when I was 9 or 10 years old, for several years. I grew up on a steady diet of fried potatoes. Some of my favorite memories involve stopping by the place when I was old enough to drive and hang out. She was a manager, and she would bring me out a large fries and a Coke. We’d chat for a bit, and then I’d be on my way, my belly full of those potatoes fried in beef tallow and Coke that may have still been made with cane sugar (though I doubt it at that point).
In my quest to be a little healthier, and to get my son eating more veggies (he hates potatoes, go figure), I’ve been trying different varieties of root vegetables lately.
His favorite is the sweet potato (technically, they’re yams…whatever). It probably helps that the first time he ate one, it was covered in marshmallows.
We eat them enough that I have branched out.
First, I tried the oft-touted “potato-like” turnip. “Some people describe them as having a bitter tone…” the recipes read. I figured my usual supertaster status wouldn’t be a big deal, since people really seem to like these things as potato replacements. I forget that they do the same thing with cauliflower “rice”. Ugh.
I sliced into the turnips. Immediately, I was overcome by a strong odor of mustard. That should have been warning enough. While they roasted, the house smelled like broccoli. I tried one bite. It was a little bitter, at first. And then came the long afterburn. Oh lord. It was awful. My husband had the same reaction. My son wouldn’t even go near them.
The turnips did not work out. We are a cyanoglucoside-hating group around here, I guess.
My next great experiment would have to be…beets.
They are so pretty! Such weird, dark, richly-colored, earthy-smelling roots. It’s a good thing I work as a geologist. From first glance, these were right up my alley.
My first task was cleaning them. Some of the recipes I consulted suggested to roast first, then peel. But I love my root veggies to get a beautiful, caramelized crust. So I found one source that indicated you could just peel them with a veggie peeler and cut them up, like you would potatoes or any other root veggie.
It still looked like a crime scene when I was done.
Chef Missy, a.k.a. Medical Examiner Missy? Hmmm…
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop the beets up after you’ve peeled them. Be generous with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
After 20 minutes, stir them up. After another 20 minutes, they should be done.
Serve with whatever you feelt like. We did a nice roasted pork tenderloin and some sweet potatoes.
I was pleasantly surprised with these. The flavor sort of reminded me of corn on the cob, when you don’t clean all of the silk or husk off. They were very, very sweet. Much like carrots or sweet potatoes, but with an extra layer of earthiness. Next time, I’d like to try golden beets. I hear they have a slightly different flavor.
My husband and son didn’t care for them, but at least they both tried them and were okay with them, unlike the turnips. I’d call that a win!