I have to admit to being a recent convert to particular root vegetables, but I am a believer now! A bit of history: My sis and I recently spent a long weekend in Michigan with our cousins, or, as we call them, our “cuzzins.” It was the first feel of cool weather for the both of us Southerners, and one evening after a long hard day of shopping by the female cuzzins, the male cuzzins made a delicious dinner that included said roasted root vegetables. The meal included roasted carrots, parsnips, onions and rutabaga.
Now, I have to admit that even though I carry the moniker of “the Healthy Gourmet,” I have had a longstanding squeamishness about rutabaga. I have carried with me childhood memories of my grandmother, overall a wonderful cook, making something in the oven that smelled horrible and had to have an apple cooked in it and then the apple mandated being thrown away after baking with this terrible thing. Yes, that terrible thing was rutabaga.
And a true confession? Before that weekend, I was not really sure what a parsnip was. Oh boy, that is not something I am proud of……
OK, now fast forward to the weekend in Michigan with the cuzzins. We sat down to dinner after a review of our conquests at the arts and crafts festival and the roasted root vegetables were beautiful and smelled divine. The vegetables had all been cut into consistently sized matchstick pieces and were nicely browned and caramelized. I must admit to being overwhelmed by the attractive presentation and the wonderful smell, but then I found out what was hidden in that dish. Rutabaga? Really? Smelling that good??!!
And believe me, they tasted even better than they looked or smelled! It was such a classic comfort dish – lots of laughing and teasing at the table, all of us in sweaters and fleeces with cool air outside the dining room, wonderful autumn bounty with its soothing smells, and, well, you get the picture. Plus, other than a bit of peeling and chopping, this dish is easy.
Here’s how to make it -- you can adjust the quantities as needed and add any of your own twists to the dish, but you have got to try this!
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 3” long matchsticks, about ½’ wide (be very careful cutting the rutabaga – they are a tough vegetable and it is easy to get the knife stuck in the flesh and/or have the knife slip and hurt you)
1 large onion, peeled and sliced into chunks similar in size to the matchstick rutabaga
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 large parsnips (they look like white carrots), peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/3 c olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
6 sprigs of fresh rosemary, each sprig about 6’ long. Remove the rosemary leaves from each sprig, chop coarsely, and divide in half.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel and cut the rutabaga, onion, carrots, and parsnips and place them on a large baking sheet (the kind with sides on it so the oil won’t run off). In a small saucepan, heat the oil, garlic, and half the rosemary leaves. Do not boil, just heat the oil for about 2 minutes to infuse the garlic and rosemary flavors. Pour the oil over the vegetables, stir well to coat all the vegetables, and top with the remaining rosemary leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir again.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, then stir the vegetables and roast for another 15 minutes. Repeat the stirring and roasting in 10 minute intervals until the vegetables reach your desired degree of doneness – if you like them really soft and really brown keep roasting until they are the way you like them! Just keep an eye on them to be sure they do not burn.
Place in a serving bowl and enjoy!
Note: I made these recently and had some left over, so I added some low sodium chicken broth, the roasted vegetables and their cooking juices from the pan, along with celery, mushrooms, some brown rice, other fresh herbs, and some leftover chicken pieces for a great autumn soup.