Fall’s Harvest Beckons
By now, you will have noticed that the selections of apples at your grocer have suddenly improved drastically. It’s finally fall harvest time in much of the United States! That means plenty of delicious fresh apples. It also means it’s time to rediscover root vegetables.
Root vegetables are some of nature’s finest, most nutrient-dense foods. Obviously, root vegetables include any and all edible roots and tubers. Think rutabagas, turnips, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, celeriac, yams, fennel, and all the rest. They bring something to the table; namely superb nutrient profiles, fiber, minerals, complex carbohydrates, and rich, satisfying flavor. Most root vegetables are packed with beneficial dietary fiber, so they’re great for keeping the digestive system humming along.
Sweet potatoes and yams are perhaps the best-known and best-loved of all root vegetables. In many ways, they’re the perfect food. They work in both sweet and savory dishes, and can be prepared in numerous ways. They can be boiled, baked, mashed, pureed and folded into other foods, etc. Pair with olive oil and rosemary for a savory dish (or try fresh thyme, or sage, for a fall treat), or go the sweet route and pair with ginger (another root vegetable!), cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, or honey. Toasted nuts also pair well with sweet potatoes. For example, try this simple recipe:
Simple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
4-5 medium firm sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed (1-inch pieces)
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 T. honey or maple syrup
1-2 tsp. ground cinnamon (and/or pinch ground cardamon)
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 C. pecans, slightly crushed and toasted briefly in a hot skillet
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375° F
Line a jelly roll pan or roasting pan with parchment paper. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Place contents on roasting pan; spread pieces out into a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring once, until tender. Toast pecans pieces in a hot skillet. Stir constantly and remove before nuts scorch. Sprinkle potatoes with pecans and serve immediately. For extra caramelization, try raising oven temp to 400° F and reducing cooking time slightly. Enjoy!
The above recipe can be adapted to suit virtually any root vegetable. Just peel, wash, chop, toss with oil, and bake (omit honey or syrup if desired—or not).