shutterstock_301854857

eat

Rooting for you

Root vegetables are the unsung heroes of autumn and winter. Incredibly versatile, affordable and quick and easy to prepare, they are our number one ingredient at this time of the year. They also have the added advantage of being mostly home-grown so you can pick them up from any farm shop or supermarket knowing you’re doing your bit for the planet too.

Because of their affordability, you can use them to bulk out casseroles and curries, allowing you to use less meat; you can turn leftover veg into cheap and cheerful, wholesome soups and use freshly sliced raw vegetables in seasonal slaws – a really affordable side for when you’re feeding a crowd.

shutterstock_65024101.jpg?w=300&h=200&scale

Carrots

If, like most of the nation, you’re on a cost-cutting exercise this season, then you can’t go far wrong with a bunch of carrots. They are one of our cheapest ingredients (unless you splash out on the rainbow-coloured heritage varieties) and can be used in a whole host of dishes.

Team them with coriander in the classic soup pairing, roast them whole with thyme and olive oil alongside your roast, chop them chunkily and throw them into casseroles and curries, grate them raw into slaws and salads, juice them into nutritious smoothies or slice them into crudités to serve alongside dips and chips. And don’t forget to use them in everyone’s favourite – carrot cake!

Try this: glaze whole chanteney carrots with maple syrup and roast whole for 25 minutes until sticky. Serve alongside roast beef or lamb.

shutterstock_1172413216
shutterstock_712611037

Parsnip

Related to the carrot family, parsnips add sweetness to many dishes, and are at their sweetest after the first winter frosts.

Try them doused in olive oil and roasted along with carrots for Sunday lunch, partnered with a pinch of curry powder in a warming soup or mashed along with sweet potato for a shepherd’s pie topping. They can even be used in cakes as a variation on traditional carrot cake.

Try this: create a warming apple and parsnip soup by blending two of autumn’s best flavours. Dice an onion and a couple of large parsnips, potatoes and apples and fry in butter for a few minutes. Add vegetable stock and allow the ingredients to simmer until soft. Blend and add seasoning to taste.

Swede

Known as neeps in Scotland, swede is similar to turnip though less watery in texture. Like most root vegetables of this variety, it can be used in lots of comforting dishes from casseroles and curries to soups and slaws.

Mashed swede works well as an alternative to mashed potato, and can be used to top cottage and fish pies. You can also roast swede wedges with a dash of paprika as an alternative to chips.

Try this: create a roast swede side dish by finely slicing a swede and layering with onion, and a few sage and rosemary leaves. Season generously. Add vegetable stock to just cover then add a blob of butter. Bake for an hour or so, turning occasionally.

shutterstock_1465853072
shutterstock_479684719

Celeriac

A member of the celery family, celeriac is also called celery root, knob celery, and turnip-rooted celery. It’s a knobbly-looking vegetable with a nutty, sweet flavour reminiscent of celery.

You can treat it much like a potato – simply peel, rinse, then roast, boil, mash or steam. It’s ideal in soups, used to flavour stocks, mashed as a side dish for Sunday roast along with a good grating of nutmeg.

Used raw, it’s also the star ingredient in the classic French remoulade, combined with lemon juice, mayo and mustard.

Try this: make an autumn slaw by finely slicing celeriac, red cabbage, white cabbage, carrots and apples. Toss together with a dressing of mayonnaise, mustard, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper, with a little sugar to sweeten.