Well, I think it's pretty safe to say that fall is officially in full swing. I can't speak for the rest of the country, but up here in the northeast the leaves are beginning to change from green to gold and crimson, fluttering to the ground, and the crisp autumn air has brought about the first chill of the season. I absolutely love this time of year. It's by far my favorite season, and I am grateful that I have the chance to experience one last bona fide fall. (For those of you out of the loop, I am returning to my southern roots in one short week). Growing up in Texas, we never really had four true and distinct seasons. It was more of a hot and cold thing. No gradual temperature changes to ease you into the next quarter of the year. Although, there are some years where the cold part never really even presents itself- I have worn flip-flops through many a December. However, I actually enjoy that barefoot in the winter feeling. After one winter here in New York, I quickly learned that I am with out a doubt a warm weather girl. So while I'm enjoying this brisk breeze here in the Big Apple, I am a wee bit relieved to be skipping out of town before the brutal and bitter cold comes blowing in.
This time of year brings about so many cold weather cravings. Sipping hot coco by a flickering fire, warming the soul with a bowl of hearty stew or a slice of apple pie, tearing into a tender braise... There are so many delicious fall recipes that I can't wait to try! Now, I'm sure your wondering, with all the endless possibilities of sumptuous autumn dishes at my disposal, why would I select root vegetables? Well, I have to tell you, they are actually pretty delicious- in their own way of course, I mean it's no pumpkin pie, but what do you expect? I was introduced to a variation of this recipe in one of my cooking classes I took at Central Market a couple years ago. On a side note, can I just say how frickin' excited I am to go shopping at that food mecca again! It's like Christmas every time I step inside those doors. I'm getting way too excited just thinking about it...
A combination of various root vegetables, roasted in the oven for a good, long hour, lends a surprisingly satisfying dish. The vegetables develop a nice caramelized exterior, providing a rich and more complex flavor. The great thing about this recipe is that it's really more of a template- the outcome is equally as tasty no matter what assortment of vegetables you might decide to use. I settled upon a variety of root vegetables that would lend an array of colors, because like I've said before, visual appeal is just as important as the taste.
So important in fact, that I ventured out in the pouring rain to Dean & Deluca and spent $6 for one pound of purple potatoes. Now those are some expensive spuds! But I just love the color of purple potatoes, especially when you cut into them, revealing this vibrant, rich, and regal hue. Of course, such painstaking measures are not necessary in order to produce a colorful variation of this recipe. The original recipe I learned at Central Market actually used regular new potatoes and provided a splash of color with green and red bell peppers. My version of the recipe is below, but feel free to use any vegetable that suits your tastes, or perhaps ones that don't necessitate a trip out in the rain.
Roasted Root Vegetables
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 lb baby purple potatoes, quartered (or purple fingerling potatoes halved)
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 fennel bulb, center core removed, and cut into chunks
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1/2 lb cipollini onions, outer skin removed
1 bunch radishes, outer edges trimmed
1 head of garlic, separated into individual cloves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, toss all vegetables together with the chopped herbs and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Spread the vegetables out on a large roasting pan and roast in the oven for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.
Makes 6-8 servings