Locally-grown produce….the phrase conjures up images of shopping at a farmers’ market, or tomatoes picked fresh from the fields, appearing in your salad just a few hours later. But in February, in many parts of the U.S., you’re looking out the window at snow and ice, with nary a fresh tomato in sight. If you’re trying to eat seasonally for better health, what are your options?
Root vegetables are often plentiful this time of year and, depending on where you live and where you shop, may be relatively inexpensive. Turnips, parsnips, and beets may not be on everyone’s go-to list of veggies, but they become delicious when roasted with a little olive oil, and the health benefits are considerable. Turnips are actually cruciferous vegetables, so, like broccoli, they contain glucoraphanin. This naturally-occurring compound is transformed into the cancer-fighting antioxidant sulforaphane in your body. Parsnips are high in fiber, which feeds your microbiome – the “good bacteria” in your gut. In turn, the bacteria produce beneficial compounds. If you want to turn to a more familiar root veggie, consider the carrot: high in Vitamin A, which is widely known to be vital for eye health, but the carotenoid family of vitamins have other important benefits. They bind to and neutralize harmful free radicals, protecting your DNA from damage that can lead to cancer.
This simple recipe is easy and flexible – choose the veggies you prefer and can find at the market.
Roasted Root Vegetables
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 1 pound yams (orange sweet potatoes) – 2 small or one large, peeled
- 3/4 pound red potatoes scrubbed clean, peel on
- 1/2 pound beets (red or golden), trimmed and scrubbed clean
- 1/2 pound large carrots, peeled
- 1 parsnip, medium-sized (4-5 oz), peeled
- 1/2 red onion, peeled
- 6 whole garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 2 tsp dried thyme)
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 3 tsp dried rosemary)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 400o
- Cut all vegetables into roughly 1 ½ -inch cubes. The more similar the size of the vegetable pieces, the more evenly they will roast.
- Place cut vegetables and garlic cloves into a large mixing bowl. Add 3 Tbsp olive oil, fresh thyme leaves, ground cumin, kosher salt, and black pepper and stir to coat.
- Brush a large, rimmed baking sheet with remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet. Don’t cram the veggies; they will brown more evenly if there is space for the hot air to circulate. Put some on another oiled baking sheet if needed. Place the rosemary sprigs on top.
- Roast, tossing after 15 minutes. Continue to roast until the largest chunks are tender and the edges are starting to turn golden/dark, another 15-25 minutes.
- Remove the rosemary sprigs and stir the vegetables. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Adapted from toriavey.com