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Posted on Sun. Dec. 29, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT

Get wowed by white veggies

Whoever said that white after Labor Day was a no-no obviously wasn’t referring to winter white root vegetables. So immediately potatoes, cauliflower and onions come to mind.

But how can we not include celeriac, turnips and parsnips into our list of OMG-these-are-amazing-and-delicious-foods that are actually good for you?

Before I get to the recipes, I’m going to dazzle you with some foodie info and a couple of tips for getting the most out of every ingredient I’m telling you about. While the potato, cauliflower and onions are pretty much staples on most everyone’s menu, the turnip, celeriac and parsnip are typically an afterthought or add in. No more; today’s column brings these three winter vegetables (yes, they are available year around but winter is the best time to use them).

If you’re unfamiliar with the parsnip, think of a huge albino carrot. You can eat it raw or cooked and it’s a great source of fiber. The parsnip has a slightly nutty, slightly sweet crunchy taste and needs to be peeled before you eat it.

Next up is the celeriac or celery root. To my taste buds it tastes like a happy mash-up of celery and parsley. Celeriac is sometimes called knob celery or celery root and can be eaten roasted, stewed, blanched, or mashed.

Last is the turnip, sometimes confused with a rutabaga. The turnip is part of the mustard family and has a slightly earthy crunchy taste and is a really great source of vitamin C.

In my opinion, finding and creating a great recipe in the winter that just happens to be good for you is the best we can do for our families.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

3 tablespoons butter

2 large onions, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

7 to 8 cups of cauliflower flowerets (2 medium heads)

3 potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 teaspoon minced garlic

5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided

1 cup whipping cream or non dairy substitute cream

1 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

Croutons

5 green onions, sliced thin

In a large stock pan sauté the onions, celery, cauliflower, potatoes and garlic in the butter. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes. Add 4 to 5 cups of broth (just cover the vegetables). Bring to a boil; let boil for 1 minute then reduce to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes then cover and cook for 20 minutes more. Add the cream, cheese, soy sauce, mustard, cayenne and black pepper. Using a blender (you will need to do this in batches) or an immersion blender, purée the soup. If you are using a blender, return the soup to the pot. Add more chicken broth to create the desired thickness. To serve, ladle into 8 serving bowls and top with croutons and sliced green onions. Serves 8.

Brussel Spouts, Turnip and Beets

4 medium-size golden beets, tops trimmed

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise

1 1/4 pounds turnips, peeled, each cut into 8 wedges

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup minced onions

1/3 cup pine nuts

3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons minced garlic

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap beets in foil; bake for 1 1/2 hours or until they are tender when poked with a fork. Cool. Peel; cut each into 8 wedges.

Cook Brussels sprouts in pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Remove them from the hot water with a slotted spoon and quickly rinse in cold water. Set them aside but don’t drain the water. Add the turnips and cook for 5 minutes until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water. You can make the dish up to this point a day ahead of time. To serve, sauté the pine nuts and onions in the butter. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the thyme and garlic. Add the beets, Brussels sprouts and turnips to the pan and heat, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are hot throughout.

Season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 8.


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