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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

We all know that eating locally is great--especially in our area with all the great farms and farm markets around.  It gives us fresher, more nutritious, more delicious produce than we could ever find in a supermarket.

But we also know that in the dead of winter (yes, this is winter despite the spring-like weather), it's hard to eat locally grown produce.  No tomatoes or cucumbers around here these days.  So if we can't necessarily eat locally, we can eat seasonally.  And this time of year, that often means root vegetables.

Supermarket tomatoes, for example, grown in California or Mexico or wherever, taste lousy because tomatoes just don't ship well.  But root veggies, whether they're grown locally or not, will not lose their freshness for a long time.

Carrots, parsnips, beets, celeriac and other root veggies may not have gained popularity until recently (and for some, haven't gotten that far yet).  But don't dismiss them--especially roasted where they get browned and so sweet. 

The cool thing about them, as NY Times food columnist, Mark Bittman, writes, is that root veggies can be used virtually interchangeably.  You may have to adjust cooking times, but you can use parsnips in a recipe that calls for carrots or turnips in place of potatoes, etc.  Check out Bittman's article about root veggies and be sure to click the link that takes you his recipes. 

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