When you see them in the stores or at the farmers’ markets, you really shouldn’t just pick them up and put them back down again. Next time bring some home; they are way more versatile than you think and a terrific stand in, or addition to, the ubiquitous white potato. And as the “storage bin” for a plant’s nutrients, root vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins, phytonutrients, and complex carbohydrates.
Parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, beets, yams, carrots, rutabagas …. the 14th St Safeway is selling them all now for between $1 and $1.68/pound, and our farm share last week brimmed over with them!
For an easy delicious and beautiful side dish, peel an assortment of root vegetables then cut them into large uniform chunks. Toss with a few tablespooons of olive oil, salt and pepper and pop into a 375 degree oven, turning occassionally, for about an hour or until lightly browned on the outside and tender on the inside. I especially like turnips and sweet potatoes prepared this way.
For a main dish that is slightly more elaborate, you can make a root vegetable potpie (with or without chicken). I made this last night with ingredients I had on hand and served it with a lightly fruity and spicy Cotes du Ventoux red – Cave La Romaine Côtes du Ventoux Rouge Volupté 2009 ($12). While similar in composition to Côtes du Rhônes wines (i.e.; grenache and syrah blends), Ventoux wines are a bit lighter and brighter tasting. The Volupte, as you can probably surmise from the name, is rich and has a longer finish than most wines of its type. It paired wonderfully well with the slightly sweet earthy flavor of the root vegetables.
Now on to the recipe! As I mentioned I had all the ingredients already on hand except for the filo dough, which I purchased from Yes! on Pa Ave. You could use puff pastry here, or biscuit dough or a regular pie crust. I liked the filo because I thought it added a nice crunchy texture contrast that the pie would not have had otherwise. But do what’s easiest for you.
Root Vegetable Pot Pie
Approx 4 cups of diced root vegetables. I used a combination of sweet potatoes and turnips.
Approx 1 cup of diced onion
Approx 2 cups sliced mushroom
Approx 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (optional)
3 – 4 TBSP butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half and half
1 TSP salt
1 TSP black pepper
2 – 3 TBSP fresh sage, minced (I had sage growing in my garden , but tarragon would be good here too)
few dashes nutmeg
few dashes smoked paprika
Approx 15 or 20 sheets of filo dough
Preheat oven to 375
Saute onion and root vegetables in butter for 10 minutes
Add flour to sauteed mixture, cook one minute stirring constantly
Comboine broth and half and half
Gradually stir into vegetable mixture, adding mushrooms and sage after a few minutes.
Stir constantly until thickened and bubbly
Stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg, paprika and chicken
Pour into shallow casserole dish and top with filo sheets according to package directions (note: I prepared the entire dish from start to finish in a large copper paella pan – worked great, looked great and only dirtied up one pot)!
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until filo pastry is golden brown