We started a new year again! The time of intense eating has long past, though by now the consequences are visible. After the holidays, many turn to salads to balance the calories. But I have hard time committing myself to a greens-only diet. Not when temperatures hover around the 30s or 40s! Fortunately, if there is one thing you can count on in this country, it’s having options… many of them… So, let’s turn to another option: root vegetables!
Why, you ask? Because they are hardy, full of vitamins, high in fiber, and they’ve been proven to be good for your health for centuries. They can stay in your fridge for a while without going bad. And, they are in season. So it’s the right time to turn these bumpy, ugly looking root vegetables into something delicious.
In my native country of Turkey we eat several root veggies that I seldom see here in the States, such as celeriac and sunchokes. Sunchokes (yes, it’s a funny name, and no, I am not making it up) can be eaten raw or in prepared dishes. In Turkey, celeriac (the root of the celery plant) is often used rather than its green stalks; this, of course, is opposite of the tradition here. In Turkey, celeriac is usually served as a side dish cooked in olive oil with potatoes and carrots and served cold. It’s also used in stews, salads, and appetizers. I have a difficult time finding celeriac and sunchokes in the US, and it often leads me on a hunt that covers all the grocery stores in a 15-mile radius of my house! But if you can find them, please try the recipes I’m sharing below.
Of course, root vegetables aren’t limited to celeriac and sunchokes. There are good ol’ carrots, potatoes, yams, red and golden beets, turnips, parsnips… and many more. You can make an elegant soup with beets or roast and put them in a tangy salad. You can blanch and cook chopped white turnips with butter a lá Julia Child. Want a hearty soup after your evening run? How about some chicken soup with root vegetables? As I said, you have options! Lots of them! However you cook it, Afiyet Olsun! (Bon Appetite in Turkish)
2 celeriac roots (peeled, either sliced in half-inch thick rounds or chopped)
Stalks and leaves of the roots (good ones, finely chopped)
5 carrots (diced)
1 medium onion (diced)
2 medium potatoes (diced)
½ cup of sweet peas (optional)
3 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Approximately 1/3 cup of water-orange juice combination (for cooking – ratio of water to juice does not matter, the more juice the better)
Enough water and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice (for soaking the roots)
½ cup of fresh dill (for serving)
Lemon juice from half of a lemon (for serving)
- Soak the peeled and chopped celeriac roots in a bowl with water and lemon juice while you are chopping the other veggies.
- Combine the celery stalks and leaves, carrots, onion, potatoes, and peas (if you are using them).
- Cover the bottom of a wide pot with the olive oil.
- If you are using sliced rounds of celeriac, place them on the bottom of the pot, and mound them with equal amounts of the other vegetables. If you are using chopped celeriac, just mix them with the vegetables and put them in the pot.
- Pour in the water/orange juice mixture. It should come about half way up to the vegetable mixture.
- Cover the pot, bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook it covered for another 30-40 minutes or until the celeriac is tender when you test with a fork.
- Serve cold with chopped dill on top.
10-12 pieces of sunchokes
1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon of rice
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup of water (for cooking)
Enough water and 2 tablespoon of lemon juice (for soaking the sunchokes)
2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (for serving)
Chopped parsley (for serving)
- Peel the sunchokes and chop roughly. Soak them in a bowl with water and lemon juice for 5 minutes.
- Cook the onions in olive oil, stirring frequently until they are soft but not browned (for 2-3 minutes).
- Add the sunchokes, rice and water, and cover the pot. Bring it to a boil, and then simmer on medium-low heat until the sunchokes are tender and the rice is cooked. If necessary, add more water for cooking but at the end there should be only a little water left in the pot.
- Transfer the dish to a bowl and let cool.
- Drizzle with lemon juice and serve with chopped parsley on top.