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Cookbook teaches us to love our roots

My family eats with the seasons, meaning we eat what is ripe when it is ready to harvest from my husband Mark’s garden. Currently we are enjoying tomatoes by the bushel, beans, cucumbers, squash and a variety of greens. As the harvest of those crops comes to an end, we will look forward to root vegetables coming into season.

Root vegetables don’t have quite the appeal that a ripe red tomato or a crisp pile of greens has. Sure carrots and beets have color but, for the most part, root vegetables are rather drab in appearance. For that reason, they are often passed up as staples in our diet because they take time to prepare, if people even know how to prepare them. But they may be the most under appreciated foods in our diet.

What roots do you eat? Potatoes, carrots and beets? How about sweet potatoes, parsnips and rutabagas? And why aren’t we eating more arrowhead, burdock root or galangal? Until I was introduced to Portland cookbook author Diane Morgan’s new release, “Roots — The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes” I had never heard of crosne, let alone eaten one. Yet there is a world of root vegetables out there that we are missing out on, friends, but with Morgan’s guidance we can learn to love all our roots.

“Roots” could very well be the best-researched book on root vegetables published in our lifetime. Morgan says she wrote the book for selfish reasons: she wanted a go-to volume that was both a comprehensive reference guide and a cookbook of simple yet creative recipes to prepare local and global root vegetables.

During her research she learned that despite their lackluster appearance roots are “superfoods.” They are packed with antioxidants, nutritionally dense, diet-friendly and cancer-fighting, immune-boosting, heart healthy and easy to digest. In the book she shares nutritional information and includes history and lore, names and descriptions of some popular varieties, tips on how to recognize what’s seasonally available and how to select the best and how to store the roots to keep them fresh. She shares characteristics of unique roots that unsuspecting cooks should know, and information on yields for each root so you will know how much to grow or buy.

“Roots” covers 28 different groups of root vegetables including Andean tubers, arrowhead, beets, burdock root, carrot, celery root, crosne, galangal, ginger, horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, lotus root, malanga, parsley root, parsnip, potato, radish, rutabaga, salsify and scorzonera, sweet potato, taro, turmeric, turnip, wasabi, water chestnut, yam and yucca.by: SUBMITTED - Diane Morgan has just released her latest cookbook, 'Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes.' She is holding a number of book signings through the area this week.

You will be able to find these at local farmers’ markets and Asian and Mexican specialty groceries this fall. “Roots” has more than 225 simple yet creative recipes that bring out the best flavors of the vegetables. I have a feeling “Roots” will become as treasured and reliable a resource as my dog-eared copies of Alice Waters’ “Fruits” and “Vegetables.”

Morgan is holding book signings this weekend. Friday you can find her at Powell’s City of Books on Burnside from 7:30 to 9 p.m. and Saturday she will conduct a cooking class and sign books at 3 p.m. as part of Bon Appetit’s Feast Portland.

On Sept. 29 she will be at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can also attend a cooking demonstration dinner on Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Abby’s Table. For complete details visit http://dianemorgancooks.com.

To give you a gentle nudge to try root vegetables, here are a few of Morgan’s recipes.

Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful!

Sauteed Crosnes with Crisp Pepper Bacon, Garlic and Parsley

Anything tastes better with bacon, of course. But it wasn’t a culinary stretch to consider a quick sauté of crosnes and pepper bacon for an even more interesting dish. Minced parsley adds a welcome herbal accent and a touch of garlic broadens the flavor profile. I like to serve this dish alongside roast chicken seasoned with lemon and herbs. It would be equally delicious with roasted duck or pork. Serves four as a side dish

4 slices pepper bacon, 3 1/2 oz.

3 1/2 cups parboiled crosnes

1 garlic clove, finely minced

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Kosher or fine sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

In a 10-inch nonstick frying pan, fry the bacon over medium heat until it is crisp and all of the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels to drain. Set aside.

Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the frying pan. Return the frying pan to medium heat and add the crosnes. Sauté, stirring constantly, until crisp-tender and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the cooked bacon, garlic and parsley and sauté, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Silky Parsnip Puree

Here is a lovely alternative to potato puree. Cooking the parsnips in milk and infusing the mixture with garlic deepens the flavor. Serve alongside roasted meats or poultry. Makes 3 cups, serving 4 to 6 as a side dish.

2 pounds parsnips, trimmed, peeled and diced

1 1/2 cups milk

1 garlic clove, minced

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

In a medium saucepan combine the parsnips, milk, garlic and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until the parsnips are very tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. (Keep the milk at a slow simmer so it doesn’t curdle.) Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and process until a silky, smooth puree forms. Add the butter and process until incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately, or keep warm until ready to serve. (The parsnip puree can be made up to 3 days in advance, cooled, covered and refrigerated. Reheat in a double boiler or microwave oven.)

Beet Hash with Spicy Chicken Sausage and Soft-Cooked Eggs

Consider this a main course for weekend brunch or even Sunday supper — it’s all about comfort food. Adding beets puts a spin on classic potato hash, bring a shock of color and an earthy sweetness to an otherwise traditional dish. Bring out the hot sauce if your guests want some spice — that’s traditional, too. Serves six as a main course

4 tablespoons olive oil

8 oz. Spicy Italian chicken sausages (about 2 links)

2 lbs. Red-skinned, Yukon Gold, or Yellow Finn potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 lb. red beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice.

Kosher or fine sea salt

1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Freshly ground pepper

6 large eggs

In a 12-in. frying pan, preferably cast iron, heat 2 tbsp of the oil over medium heat and swirl to coat the pan. Add the sausages and brown on all sides until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove the sausages from the pan and set aside to cool.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the remaining 2 tbsp oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the potatoes, beets and 1 tsp salt and sauté just until coated with the oil, about 1 minute. Cover and steam for 5 minutes, stirring once. Add the onion and stir to incorporate, then re-cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the onion is softened, about 7 minutes longer.

Meanwhile cut the sausages into rounds 1/4 inch thick. Set aside.

Uncover the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and add the thyme and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir to dislodge any bits stuck to the pan bottom, then continue to sauté the potatoes and beets until tender, about 10 minutes longer. Gently fold in the sliced sausages and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Using a large spoon, make six shallow depressions in the hash, spacing them evenly around the pan and putting one in the center. Carefully crack an egg into each depression. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook the eggs until the whites ar4 set and the yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, topping each egg with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

All recipes and cook’s notes are from Diane Morgan’s “Roots — The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes,” 2012.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext 101 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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