1-Pot French Onion Soup (Minimalist Baker)
Root vegetables grow underground, with just the green leay stems above the soil. Very popular to grow in England, if growing your own root veggies, see how to make your garden safe for pets, to know toxic plants and other hazards to avoid.
There are of course more unusual varieties, but for this post we’ll just give a recipe or two for the most popular root veggies. They are full of fibre and antioxidants, and some (like carrots and beetroot) are naturally sweet, so you can even use them as a main ingredient in cake! Free from most contraindications, the only people who tend to refrain from eating root vegetables are Jains (a strict Indian religion that believes tiny creatures are harmed, they are pulled from the earth).
This seems a bit extreme even for vegans, as many other types of vegetables cause creatures to be harmed from harvesting. Eating locally-grown organic vegetables of any kind is always best (more chance without plastic packaging from a local farm shop). Some yogis don’t eat onions and garlic, believing they are not ‘Sattvic’ (can agitate the mind, a bit like too much coffee!) The main root vegetables are:
- Onions – these are one of England’s most common vegetables, and easy to use as a base for anything from pasta to rice dishes, plus can be made into soup or even gravy. All alliums (onion, garlic, shallots, leeks and chives) are toxic to pets, so keep them away.
- Carrots are cheap and easy to find in farm shops and greengrocers (don’t buy the giant plastic bags of too-many-carrots as they’ll go off quickly). Good in cakes, they are very nutritious and mostly water, so very hydrating. Cook and mash carrots for children and swallowing difficulties (choking hazard).
- Sweet potatoes are more nutritious than white potatoes (though both are good). Cut off the green toxic parts before cooking. Yams (tubers, with brown skin) are not the same as red-flesh sweet potatoes.
- Beetroots are one of nature’s sweetest vegetables, and ideal for smoothies, soups and cakes. Unless you have a medical condition, don’t worry if they (temporarily) turn your pee pink!
- Parsnips are also very sweet. Most people like nothing more than some roasted parsnip for their roast dinner. Before sugar came into wide use, they were used to sweeten cakes and jam.
- Swede (called ‘rutabaga’ in the US) is also lovely when mashed for roast dinner, and unlike most root veggies, it’s low in carbs (so ideal ‘feasting food’ if you’re trying to lose weight and have a sweet tooth!) Excellent in soups and stews, in Scotland the dish ‘neeps and tatties’ means swede and potato.
- Turnips are not so popular, and that’s a shame as they grow well in England, and are nutritious and tasty. Related to radish, they are very cheap (aristocrafts used to refuse to eat them).
- Leeks must be rinsed well to remove grit, as they are grown in sandy soil. Trim the roots and cut off dark green tops (good for stock). Slice in half then fan layers under a running tap to rinse, drain and slice. They taste a bit like green onions (scallions).
A Few Simple Root Vegetable Recipes
Use vegan butters with no palm oil. Use a reusable silicone baking liner or unbleached parchment paper (in compostable packaging). Keep recipes away from pets, due to toxic ingredients.
Fiery Golden Smoothie with Orange & Ginger (Good Eatings) takes drinking a glass of carrot juice to the next level. Made with oat milk and frozen mango, it contains a little turmeric powder for colour (also a good anti-inflammatory). You don’t need ice due to the frozen fruit.
Kale, Leek & Bean Soup (Good Eatings) is a warming Swedish soup with all the flavours: veggie stock, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, all blended up with beans and vegetables, leaving chunks instact. Serve with zested lemon rind, good bread and palm-oil-free vegan butter. Check medication before eating lots of dark green leafy greens.
Barley Risotto with Roasted Carrots (The First Mess) shows now is the time to start cooking with pearl barley, if you’ve never done so before. Use veggie stock over white wine for an alcohol-free version, and serve both dishes with freshly-ground black pepper.
Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Chowder (The First Mess) is the ideal recipe to use up leftovers spuds and bits of cauliflower. Neither is bland once you add miso (a Japanese salty condiment), garlic, mustard, smoked paprika, lemon and dried thyme.
Mushroom & Beetroot Bolognese (The First Mess) combines a common pasta ingredient with a more unusual one. The beetroot gives a smoky earthy taste to the Italian dish, made authentic with tomato paste, bay leave, garlic and a glug of red wine.
Carrot Muffins (The First Mess) are made with wholesome ingredients like orange and vanilla. Ideal with vegan butter and a cup of tea.
Fudgy Sweet Potato Brownies (Crumbs & Caramel) makes it easy for chocaholics to get one of their five-a-day. Made with wholesome ingredients and sweetened with maple syrup, they keep for a few days in the fridge (in an airtight container).