Chunk It Up
By Susan Olcott
“Chunk it up,” that’s the response I got when I picked up a scraggly, hairy root vegetable of some sort at the farmer’s market several winters ago. I was in an experimental cooking phase and felt drawn to things grown deep in the dirt when the dirt was buried deep under the snow. Cooking was a way to bring back some of the warmer weather through the vegetables it helped to grow. When I asked what this strange root vegetable was, the gracious woman at the farm stand told me it was celeriac, or celery root. I didn’t even know celery had a root, or a bulb.
“So, what do I do with it?” I asked. “You chunk it up,” she said. “Then you can roast it or mash it like a potato.”
I chose to chunk it and mash it and it was delicious. The next week, I was on to rutabagas, which she also advised me to “chunk up.” I put these chunks in with a roasting chicken, which was very tasty. Kohlrabi was next – this time I tossed the chunks with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them, resulting in something like a zippier potato. I already knew and loved the sweet root vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes, but how could I not love these new additions to my cooking lexicon – particularly with names like celeriac, rutabaga and kohlrabi? It turns out that root vegetables are not just the only local thing left you can buy at the farmer’s market in the winter, but they also super nutritious. They are nature’s amazing storage devices for the soil’s rich nutrients. Antioxidants, Vitamins A, B, C and iron are all abundant in root vegetables. They’re also full of complex carbohydrates and fiber, both of which are important for regulating blood sugar and keeping your digestive system healthy. There’s a whole lot more detail on these veggies, how to cook them, and their nutrition value at: https://ohmyveggies.com/a-guide-to-root-vegetables/. Here are a few super easy ideas – be creative and try any of these with any mixture of root vegetables.