The “Roots” of Comfort Food
We’re just over 3 weeks into the chilliest season of the year and everyone’s traded their flip flops for snow boots and rakes for shovels! Well, almost everyone. I was born in Lima and grew up in Miami, so for me, talking about winter fashions is like asking an eskimo how she chooses her bikinis. No matter your winter climate, one thing I do know is that we all share a common love of food and the wonderful feelings it can evoke. Good food can nourish the soul any time of year, but can be particularly comforting during the cold winter season.
Root vegetables are some of my favorite ingredients to use in the winter due to the sheer variety of in-season options. Parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, celeriac, carrots, radishes, beets and salsify are just a handful of the hearty, flavorful veggies guaranteed to warm you up at the dinner table.
My winter cornucopia is filled with these delicious, tuber-like vegetables that are loaded with nutrients, earthy flavors, subtle aromas and substantial character.
Speaking of “tuber-like vegetables,” I feel obligated to acknowledge the ongoing, fiery debate about whether or not potatoes, yams, yucca and other similar veggies fall into the root vegetable category – but that’s a whole other blog! You’ll have to wait for Chef Sazon’s final verdict on this contentious issue – this post is all about comfort! I promise to dedicate a future blog to this issue. I have to, I am Peruvian after all :)
One of my favorite methods for cooking root vegetables is roasting. This simple approach is a veggie prep staple that doubles as one of the best ways to bring out their beautiful, natural flavors and is also great for the unsung novice kitchen heroes wanting to create a dish that is as tasty as it is nutritious.
This blog wouldn’t be complete without a special root vegetable recipe courtesy of yours truly – Check out my recipe for Honey Glazed Root Vegetables with Lavender & Thyme, and be sure to read my helpful tips below.
Keep these useful tips in mind, and remember – I’m “rooting” for you!
- Wash your veggies! Remember, if they come from the earth, they have dirt.
- Peel! There are some exceptions to the rule (i.e. beets) that you can eat with the skin, but I suggest peeling thick skins before cooking and eating.
- Sazon them! Flavor your veggies properly – toss them in olive oil & herbs before roasting, or, glaze with melted butter and spices.
- Make a soup! Root vegetables in soups = instant comfort.
- Mash them! Always mash responsibly (this is not the time to relieve your stress by smashing your rutabagas on the ground). Instead, use them as a potato substitute in your next mashed potato recipe.
- Share them! What is comfort if you cannot share it with the ones you love?
Whether you’re hiding from the winter weather indoors or are braving the icy tundra of South Florida (all you Northerners are welcome to retaliate my sarcasm this July), comfort can always be found in the warmth of your family and friends, gathered around a cozy, delicious meal.