Tis the season of slow-cooked stews, Sunday roasts and simmering soups – and autumn’s root vegetables are the only ingredients you’ll need to see you through!
A much-loved root vegetable, parsnips have a subtle earthy flavour that turns sweet and nutty on cooking. The sweetest parsnips are those that are picked after a frost and the fresher the better. To bring out this sweet flavour, try roasting in a little maple syrup, boil with fragrant spices to create a warming soup, or purée with milk and butter for a creamy parsnip mash.
Try this: gently curried parsnip soup is a winner at this time of year. Begin by frying the parsnip with onion and a teaspoon of curry powder before slowly adding stock. Finish with some chilli flakes and a swirl of soured crème.
Squashes come in all shapes and sizes but the most well-known in the UK for cooking is the butternut. As the name suggests, it has a buttery flavour and consistency when cooked, and a sweetness that is enhanced when mixed with a little sugar or cinnamon. Don’t let the tough skin put you off – as with many winter veg, the flavour is greatly enhanced when roasted, so just leave the skin on when roasting and scoop the soft flesh out when cooked to use in soups, risottos and stir-fries.
Try this: create some spiced butternut squash wedges by peeling a squash and cutting into wedges. Mix together some herbs and spices such as oregano, curry powder and turmeric with a glug of olive oil. Add the squash and coat well, then roast for 20 minutes until cooked.
Not the prettiest of vegetables, true, but appearances can be deceptive. Beneath the rather gnarly exterior lies a real beauty – creamy white flesh that makes the most divine mash. A descendant of the celery family, celeriac has a slightly nutty flavour that lends itself to slow-cook casseroles. It’s also good roasted with meat or used raw in salads.
Try this: make an autumnal slaw by grating celeriac with carrot, cabbage and beetroot. Drizzle with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and honey and season to taste.
Don’t overlook this versatile little vegetable – it has a number of culinary uses and is one of the best ways for bulking out other meals without great expense. Boiled carrots are rather passé and do nothing to enhance the carrot’s naturally sweet flavour. Try roasting them whole or quartered in olive oil and maple syrup, add carrot chunks to casseroles for, whizz into carrot soup or grate onto salads or into cake mix for added goodness.
Try this: make a carrot rosti with leftover ingredients from the Sunday roast. Grate together boiled carrot and potato, sprinkle with flour and mix in chopped spring onion. Bind together and form into patties. Fry the patties on both sides, and enjoy topped with a fried egg and green salad.
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