Thursday, January 7, 2010

Root Vegetable Stew

It is so cold outside and there really isn't much seasonal produce in the Northeast at this point. If you venture to the greenmarket, you will find potatoes, assorted other root vegetables, and onions--not exactly the makings of a meal, or is it?

In striving to eat with the seasons, I invented this stew a few years ago and it became an instant classic in my book. It may be my most requested stew and probably my healthiest stew. It is hearty, filling, and flavorful and lends a little excitement to the table by exploring and utilizing the less popular and often overlooked root vegetables. This time of year, our bodies need the particular nutrients that these veggies offer. This stew is really inexpensive to make and will help you through the coldest months.

You can use any combination, but here is how I like to do it. The yucca and taro can be hard to find. I usually find yucca at regular grocery stores in NYC. The taro I can only find in Chinatown. If you can't find them, substitute with other roots and you will yield a fine result.

If you aren't certain which roots are which here is a quick overview.

Parsnips: the long ones that look like white carrots
Turnips: usually small and white with purple bottoms
Rutabaga: large yellowish turnips also with purple bottoms and often waxed
Celeriac: knobby, beige, and often dirty and smells like celery!
Taro: looks like a very rough potato with lines going around it
Yucca: looks like long sweet potatoes, but have a white inside, often waxed

Celeriac (a.k.a. Celery Root), Turnips, and Taro Root

Root Vegetable Stew

1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or virgin coconut oil
2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
dash of nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 Yukon Gold potato
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium carrot
1 medium parsnip
1 celeriac, roughly the size of a softball
1 turnip
1 rutabaga
2 golden beets
1 small yucca root
1 taro root

32 oz vegetable broth
water, as needed
3-4 Tbsp arrowroot, cornstarch, or flour for thickening
chopped parsley or chervil for garnish

In a large pot, cook onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt, pepper, and spices.

While onions cook, start prepping your root vegetables. You will want to chop them all roughly the same size so they cook evenly. Peel all of the root vegetables* (you don't have to peel the potato, carrot, and sweet potato if they are organic) and cut them into roughly 1 inch by 2 inch pieces. I like to leave the carrots and parsnips long if they have a nice shape--just a little visual variety.

*The turnip, beets, parsnip, and taro can probably be peeled with a vegetable peeler. The celeriac, rutabaga, and yucca are best peeled by cutting the skin away with a large knife. Be sure to rinse the peeled celeriac after cutting--the dirt from the outside tends to get everywhere!

As you chop veggies, transfer them to the pot and stir them in with onions and continue cooking on low until all of the root vegetables are in the pot. Add vegetable broth and enough water to just cover them and crank the heat up. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and a few inches of liquid has reduced.

When veggies are tender, taste and adjust salt, pepper, and spices.

Using a ladle, transfer about 2 cups of broth to a bowl, mix arrowroot, cornstarch, or flour with the liquid and stir well until there are no lumps. Transfer back to the stew pot and cook a minute or two until the sauce thickens.

Serve as is or with a little grated pecorino.

Stay Warm!

1 comment:

Deborah said...

sounds like the perfect dish for this time of year. I am feeling warm and cozy just reading the recipe!