December is just a few days away…which means it will officially be both root vegetable and winter squash month! Exciting, right? In effort to celebrate and prepare you early, I compiled a few of my favorite recipes falling into those 2 categories. Since it is getting so cold that I have to turn on my electric blanket, crank up my space heater, and pull out the snuggie (ok, let’s be honest, I’ve been doing this for a while now. I’m ALWAYS cold…), warm foods are an absolute must. Besides believing that exercise will go a long way in helping keep you warm by circulating your blood and raising you inner body temperature, warm foods are the next best way to stay sane.
As the chilly winter weather sets in (we are set for temps in the teens here!), the sprouts and greens of root vegetables peek their heads above ground inviting themselves to be picked and cooked any number of ways. When the heat and humidity of summer leave, people tend to stop craving the light foods that keep them hydrated: salads of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber and instead begin craving heavier foods like potatoes, soups, and thick breads. The beauty of root vegetables is that they combine the healthiness of vegetables and a flavorful richness as well as being multipurposed and easy to cook.
What exactly is a root veggie? It simply means that the vegetable grows underground, versus, say the cucumber or tomato that is above ground. Potatoes, carrots, and parsnips are all root vegetables while pumpkin and butternut squash, although not roots, are considered winter squash. All these can be roasted, stewed, baked, or grilled for both savory and sweet dishes.
Winter is a great time to whip out root veggie dishes because of their warming, belly-filling qualities. It can be as simple as wrapping a sweet potato in foil and grilling it until soft or mashing them up and creating a candied-pecan topped casserole. They are also perfect because they are hearty enough to be used as both side dishes or main courses, depending on how you fix them. Remember, creativity is the name of the game!
Loaded Baked Potato Bar
Perfect for grilling outside in foil or baking in the oven inside; then set up a bar of toppings. Cook some chili as a topping or have on the side.
8 baking potatoes
Wrap potatoes in foil and place on the grill for about 45 minutes. If you decide to cut into wedges or slices, reduce the cooking time to 5-10 minutes.
Sour cream/yogurt, cheese, chives, bacon, chili, ranch dressing, ham cubes, butter, grilled onions and peppers
Root Veggie Pie
A warm dish reminiscent of Fall. Serve as a side dish or as a vegetarian main course.
- 1 9 inch pie crust (store bought or homemade)
- 5 cups of diced root vegetables (parsnip, turnips, carrots, beets, potatoes, rutabagas)
- olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium purple onion, caramelized
- 4 cups cubed sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt and pepper to taste
Caramelize the onions by cooking them in a heated, oiled pan until they are soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the root veggies you plan to use into cubes, all relatively the same size. Drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 450 for 1 hour, or until soft. Peel the sweet potatoes, poke them with a few holes, and microwave until soft. Beat the potatoes with the milk and some salt until whipped and soft. Then, layer your veggies: onions on bottom, followed by root veggies, then top with the whipped potatoes. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Warm, sweet, and deliciously chocolately.
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil
1 can pumpkin
¾ cup sugar
1 cup of chips of any kind (chocolate, white chocolate, cinnamon etc.)
Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with a whisk. Beat the eggs, and mix with the oil, sugar, and pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients gradually into the wet until mixed through. Fold in the chips.
Bake at 350 for 45 min-1 hour in either a loaf pan or 9X13 pan, 25-35 minutes if muffins.