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VPR Cafe: Root Vegetable Rescue

flickr/Esto tiene que estor de muerte/2960341883
Roasted root vegetables with rosemary

"There's no root vegetable that can't overcome it's bad reputation."

At this time of year, the only local vegetables you may be able to find are root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, etc., and some of them have a bad rep. This week on the VPR Cafe, Candace Page has some delicious recipes for surviving the winter on root vegetables that are more interesting and delicious than you might expect. Candy writes for the Savore Sectionof the Burlington Free Press, where you can read more about how Vermont chefs are dressing up root vegetables. Candace shares the recipes mentioned in this week's VPR Cafe below.

The VPR Cafe is produced in collaboration with the Burlington Free Press and is made possible on VPR by the Vermont Community Foundation Food and Farm Initiative.

Bacon Candied Turnips
(from Phillip Clayton, chef-partner, The Farmhouse Group)
2 cups turnips, cut in medium dice
¼ pound bacon, diced
1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Dice the bacon and cook in a frying pan until crisp. Scoop out the bacon and reserve the fat. Cut the turnips into a medium dice, then toss them in the bacon fat and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the turnips on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 45 minutes until tender.
Put a small amount of bacon fat into the frying pan and sauté the shallots and thyme until aromatic. Add the bacon and roasted turnips. Stir in the maple syrup and cider vinegar.
Simmer over low heat until the syrup thickens and evenly glazes the outside of the turnips. Serve immediately.
* Candace Page note:  Clayton recommends using bacon from Guild Fine Meats. He notes that the turnips, bacon, shallots, maple syrup and vinegar can all be sourced from Vermont producers.

Celery Root (Celeriac) and Potato Purée
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium celery root, about 3/4 to 1 pound
½ cup chicken stock or water, more if needed
½ to 2/3 cups whole milk
1 pound yellow potatoes (Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn or Idaho Russets), peeled and cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Cut a slice from the bottom of the celeriac bulb so that it will sit flat on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut away the thick skin in longitudinal strips. Cut the bulb in 1/4-inch slices.
In a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt three tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the celery root along with a pinch of salt and toss to coat the slices in the butter.
Add the stock or water, cover tightly and cook until quite soft, about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring now and then. Lower the heat if the celery root starts to brown. Add a bit more liquid if the celeriac is sticking. Once the celery root is soft, cooked uncovered briefly until most of the liquid evaporates.
Put the cooked root in a blender or food processor and add part of the milk. The blender will give a more silky purée, but you will need to add more milk as you blend.
While the celery root cooks, place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook at a gentle simmer until just tender. Drain. Pass through a ricer or food mill and return to the pot. Fold in 2 tablespoons of butter and the reserved celery root purée.
Adjust the consistency of the purée with warm milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
(Candace Page note: Alternatively, skip the potatoes and serve unadorned celery root puree.)

Hinesburgh Public House Rutabaga Slaw
(from Shawn Beede, executive chef)
2 medium rutabagas
2 carrots
12 ounces (one bag) frozen cranberries
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons celery seed
3 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper
½  cup ranch dressing (recipe below)
In a non-reactive pot, combine the frozen cranberries and cider vinegar. Heat briefly( do not boil), then turn off the burner, cover the pot and allow the cranberries to plump up in the liquid.
Peel the rutabagas and carrots, slice thinly and cut into matchsticks. (A mandoline or the medium julienne blade on a food processor are recommended).
Drain the cranberries, reserving the liquid. Toss the vegetables, cranberries, celery seed, sugar and two tablespoons of the cranberry-vinegar liquid in a large bowl. Add ranch dressing and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more of the cranberry vinegar for a sharper salad.
 *Candace Page note: Beede recommends Vermont Cranberry Co. cranberries as well as locally sourced rutabagas and carrots.

Ranch dressing
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
¾ teaspoon minced garlic
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
handful of celery leaves, chopped
handful of parsley, chopped
handful of dill, chopped
¼ teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or use an immersion blender. Yield, about one cup.

Franny was VPR's Director of Programming & Production.
Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
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