Root Veggies on Parade

Beet varieties at the Park Slope Food Coop

Everyone direct your attention to the nearest produce section, brimming with veggies in every odd shape and color of the rainbow. It’s time to familiarize yourself with the scraggily, weird looking veggies, pulled straight from the ground that have settled on produce shelves for the winter. They include such favorites as carrots, celery, parsnips, radish, turnips, beets, potatoes, onions, shallots, garlic and rutabaga… well maybe not that last one but it’s just so fun to say! Besides rutabaga these are some of the most common things we find in the crisper drawer, probably because they last much longer than your fruits or your greens. They’re something we’re confident using two weeks in a row, which makes our job all the more experimental and exciting.

There’s almost nothing I find more comforting than biting into a warm roasted carrot, which is why, when I surveyed my supermarket this weekend, just as the temperature finally dropped below 60, I ended up with mostly carrots in my handcart. I love the way they’re equally delicious raw as they are cooked and how they add just the right amount of sweetness to a dish.

A few more things you should know about carrots:

  • You don’t need to peel them unless you’re eating them raw.
  • While carrots are very nutritious (vitamin A, C, potassium, etc.) most of the nutrients in carrots actually reside in or just bellow the skin so it’s best not to peel away too much.
  • For candy-like caramelized carrots drizzle a little honey or maple syrup on them before roasting.
  • As we know carrots come in many colors. But when carrots were first cultivated (some ten thousand years ago) they were actually purple, not the orange color we associate them with most today (
  • You really will turn orange if you eat too many of the orange ones!

The second root-veggie I find it hard to resist is beets. When I see them on a menu I must have them, especially when they’re paired with goat cheese… mmmm. I love the sweet smell of the steam when you unwrap their foil. I don’t even mind that my hands will look like an art project for the rest of the day (pro tip: feta juice takes it right off).

A few more things you should know about beets:

  • To steam beets, rinse well, pat dry, sprinkle with salt and wrap in foil. The foil-wrapped bulbs can be placed directly on the oven rack. Just be sure they’re wrap doesn’t have any tears of holes.
  • They take a long time (sometimes over an hour) – so plan ahead! For steaming it’s important to try to pick beets that are relatively the same size so they’re tender at the same time. If you’re crunched for time, use smaller beets or cut larger ones into wedges with their skin on and roast them just like you would any other veggie with salt, pepper and olive oil on a sheet tray at 425 degrees. The skins get nice and caramelized that way!
  • You can eat them raw: shredded like you would carrots or shaved like you would radish.
  • Keep a loose piece of foil or sheet tray on the rack below the beets to collect any spills, saving yourself from that horrible bubbly, smoky mess on the bottom of your oven.

I could go on and on about my favorite root-vegetables because, truth is, I love them all, these are just the ones I’m craving this week:

I saw this carrot recipe in the new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (just hit shelves last weekend and totally worth a peruse) that immediately caught my eye. Because carrots, tahini, crispy chickpeas. But I wanted it to be substantial enough for my whole meal so I decided raw carrots we’re enough and I roasted big chunks instead.

I also added smoked paprika to the chickpeas because it’s delicious.


4-5 carrots quartered lengthwise or cut in coins

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

Pepper to taste


1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and patted dry on paper towels

1 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. paprika


1 medium garlic clove

Juice of one lemon

3 Tbs. tahini

2 Tbs. water, or more as needed

A pinch of salt


1/4 cup chopped pistachios, roasted

2 sprigs parsley leaves

Roast carrots: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange carrots in a single layer on a large, parchment lined sheet tray. Season with salt, pepper and oil, toss and roast for about 25 minutes, until the carrots are deeply roasted and caramelized.

Chickpeas: Toss chickpeas with oil and seasonings. Spread them on a sheet tray and roast alongside the carrots until crisp and crunchy, about 15-20 minutes.

Vinaigrette: Whisk ingredients in a large bowl until smooth, but not too loose. You may need to add more water to achieve this consistency. Don’t worry this is normal!

Assemble salad: tumble carrots, chickpeas, pistachios and parsley into a large bowl and drizzle with tahini vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Other favorite carrot recipes:

Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh’s beautiful book, Sweet, highlights a couple unlikely root vegetable baked goods. Of course the one that seduced me wasn’t the carrot cake, which is a personal weakness, but the beet cake! With spicy candied ginger and tangy cream cheese frosting it’s certainly a contender!

The picture in the cookbook made the frosting look light and fluffy. My results were a little on the runnier side, but still tasted delicious 🙂


2/3 cup walnut halves

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 red beets, peeled and coarsely grated

Finely grated zest of one orange (1 tbs.)

1/2 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger (they instruct you to steep these in boiling water for 15 minutes, however, I skipped this step to create a little more intense flavor)

2 large eggs

¼ cup soup cream

½ cup sunflower oil


5 ½ cream cheese at room temperature

½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted (plus more if necessary)

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 1/3 inch piece of ginger grated into a fine sieve placed over a bowl and the flesh squeezed to extract all the juices; reserve the juice.

To make cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper, then set aside.

Toast the walnuts in a skillet in the oven for 15 minutes.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine and aerate. Add the beets, orange zest, walnut and ginger, but do not stir.

Place wet ingredients: eggs, sour cream and oil in another small bowl and whisk to combine.

Pour mixture into the cake pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 50-55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

To make frosting: Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place and beat for about 10 seconds until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until well incorporated. Add the cream and beat for about 1 minute, until the frosting is thick and smooth. Add the ginger juice, beat for a few more seconds. If the frosting seems a little loose just add a little more confectioner’s sugar. Once the cake is cooled, frost with an offset spatula and slice to serve!

Ottolenghi stirs in a crushed 1500mg vitamin C tablet to help preserve some of the vibrant pink hue

Other favorite beet recipes:


Happy cooking,


Rian’s Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup with greek yogurt and arugula

Fall is in the air! The leaves on the trees are becoming as vibrantly colorful as this season’s offerings at the farmer’s market. It’s officially time to swap stone fruit for sweet and crunchy apples, trade summer squash for the butternut squash, and switch from pea shoots to brussel sprouts. Fall is a warm invitation for comfort; a time for greeting the familiar scent of a bonfire, sipping spiced tea, firing up the oven for roasts and braises.

Food plays such a large role in why I love the fall. Harvest time provides bountiful offerings, a plethora of seasonal recipes for savory, hot meals, and a prolonged sense of happiness and nostalgia as a result from eating such dishes.  Pumpkin bread, roasted mushrooms and pork tenderloin with homemade spiced-apple chutney never fail to bring me back to a happy place from my childhood. I remember the joy of submerging myself into the warmth and scents of a welcoming home after walking through the front door on a blustery day. All of these meals are treasured for the memories they carry with them, but in the end nothing comes close to the comfort I remember of curling up on the couch with a bowl of warm, spiced butternut squash soup.

I recently returned home one evening, exhausted from a long day, only to find that my roommate Rian, of What We Eat, had easily whipped up a small meal. The soup was ready and waiting for me while an armchair and a cozy blanket beckoned from the corner. I filled up a bowl and joined in watching a film, but was immediately transported to another place when I tried a spoonful of soup. Creamy in consistency, deeply herbaceous, slightly sweet, and lightly spiced with nutmeg, accented by a subtle heat achieved by a dash of cayenne. This meal embodied that fall represents, all in a 12 ounce serving.

With love, Kristina 🙂

Rian’s Squash soup

  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups butternut squash
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4th teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese rind (or grated parmesan if you do not have)

The secret to this soup is to add depth of flavor by deeply caramelizing the onions. Roughly chop the onion and put into a pot with some olive oil on medium-high heat.

Once the onions have achieved some good color, add in chopped carrots and chopped butternut squash and sauté until they are tender, about ten minutes. At this point add in chopped garlic, cumin and nutmeg. Cook for a few minutes longer so that the spices can toast and then add the chicken stock.

For an amazing umami flavor, place a parmesan cheese rind into the pot with the rest of the ingredients. If you do not have a rind, a little grated parmesan added in before blending will be fine too. Allow the soup to come up to a simmer for about ten minutes and then remove from the heat.

Remove the rind now, or add in the grated parmesan. Blend the soup to a thick pureed consistency, either by using an immersion blender or a regular blender. Be careful of splatters if you do not have the patience to wait until the soup has cooled. At this point adjust by adding more liquid if the soup is very thick. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with toasted bread, (I love mine rubbed with garlic and chopped into croutons) a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkling of fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro or basil.