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A Lesson in Underappreciated Root Vegetables

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A Lesson in Underappreciated Root Vegetables

Carrots and beets get all the praise, but parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips deserve some too! Here’s why.

Come winter time the only local, seasonal veggies we can get a hold of are often root veggies. Although many root veggies, such as carrots and beets, are prized for their sweet flavour, other root veggies, such as parsnips, rutabaga, and turnips, don’t get the attention they deserve.

When prepared with care—as with any ingredient—these underappreciated root veggies shine, providing you with versatility during the cold winter months.

Parsnips
Although parsnips really just look like white carrots, they have a distinct taste that adds spicy bite to a variety of dishes.

Parsnips are high in dietary fibre, as well as vitamin C, manganese, and potassium. They also have notable levels of folate, which is essential for producing and maintaining new cells, especially during pregnancy.

Look for parsnips that are firm to the touch and not too large, as large parsnips tend to be woody. Store them in a plastic bag in the crisper for several weeks.

Use parsnips in soups, stews, latkes, combined with potatoes in a mash, or even in sweet recipes, such as these Harvest Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Rutabagas
These round roots typically have a yellow or tan and purple exterior and a creamy-white flesh. They are relatively low in calories (just 66 total for a single cup of cooked rutabaga), and have substantial levels of dietary fibre, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. Surprisingly, this bland-looking veggie is extremely high in vitamin C—the same one cup serving contains more than 50 percent of our daily recommended intake of the essential vitamin.

When buying rutabaga, look for ones that have a smooth surface and are also bright purple in colour. Store rutabagas in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.

Culinary uses of rutabaga include stews, soups, and rutabaga mash.

Turnips
Although rutabagas and turnips are both from the mustard family, they are actually quite different when you look closely. They too have a partly purple skin; however, it’s much smoother and the bottom portion is quite a bright white.

Turnips are generally low in calories; in fact, a single cup of cubed, cooked turnip has only 35. Like its cousin, rutabaga, the turnip is, too, exceptionally high in vitamin C.

When purchasing turnips, look for those that are unblemished and heavy for their size. If they come with their greens attached, don’t throw them away. There are many tasty dishes that can be made with turnip greens, and, in fact, they’re delicious just sautéed with a bit of olive oil, garlic, and sea salt.

Include turnips in the usual winter fare, such as soups and stews. Or make them a star in this Braised Vegetable Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuits.

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