It’s autumn, and the markets are filled with a harvest of carrots, parsnips beets and turnips, loaded with fiber and vitamin C. But how do you eat these rich root vegetables? Chef Jeffory McLean, of the New York Wine and Culinary Institute, offers some tips on buying and preparing seasonal root vegetables, just in time for comfort food.
1. Buy seasonal, buy local.
For the best flavor and value, buy at farmers markets and in locally owned and run groceries.
Check out PickYourOwn.org/NY to find out what’s in season.
2. Store between 40 to 50 degrees F.
Sturdy root vegetables such potatoes, butternut squash, parsnips, turnips and beets are obvious candidates for the root cellar. Onions, garlic, squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and green tomatoes will last until spring if you keep them dry and cool.
3. Blanch and freeze.
Blanching—quickly boiling chopped vegetables—stops enzyme actions, which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching also cleans, brightens and helps retain vitamins, and makes them easier to pack.
4. Maximize flavor with proper cooking techniques.
Root vegetables take best to roasting, braising and baking.
5. Don’t relegate root veggies to the side. Feature them in the main course.
Try sweet potato gnocchi or carrot soup.
6. Don’t forget the greens.
Take advantage of nutritious greens. Try beet greens sautéed in garlic.