Chefs to let root vegetables star on fall menus

Root vegetables have become a staple on fall/winter menus, and for good reason. They are high in vitamins and minerals that they absorb from the ground, making them full of nutrients and an excellent source of fiber. Their versatility and strong flavors have made them a favorite among chefs. Below are some of the root vegetables available through Upper Lakes Foods:

  • 142307, 1/40# Fresh jumbo sweet potatoes
  • 142315, 1/10# Fresh yams
  • 204602, 6/10 cn Fancy cut yams
  • 182905, 6/10 cn Diced beets
  • 281312, 6/10 cn Sliced pickled beets
  • 130402, 1/10# Rutabagas
  • 138503, 1/50# Jumbo yellow onions
  • 138586, 1/50# Colossal onions
  • 138602, 1/25# Jumbo red onions
  • 138701, 1/40# Walla Walla onions
  • 138719, 1/10# Jumbo white onions
  • 138884, 1/2# Green onions
  • 128579, 1/5# Fresh peeled garlic cloves
  • 130005, 14/1# Radishes
  • 130021, 3/1# Radishes
  • 128598, 1/5# Ginger root
  • 128603, 1/1# Ginger root


Chefs to let root vegetables star on fall menus

The following article appeared in Nation’s Restaurant News, click here to view the original.

Chef Nicole Pederson allows root veggies to shine in her signature Turmeric and Root Vegetable Stew at Found in Evanston, Ill. Galdones Photography

We may be in the thick of summer, with an abundance of seasonal vegetables ripe for the picking and menuing, but many chefs are already considering how they will use fall’s bounty of root vegetables on menus.

Among those chefs is Galen Zamarra, the executive chef and co-owner of Mas (farmhouse) and Almanac restaurants in New York City, who is known for sourcing local, seasonal ingredients and taking a stem-to-root approach to vegetables.

“I like root vegetables because they are incredibly versatile,” Zamarra said. “They can be eaten raw in a salad, fried, puréed, roasted, you name it. They also lend strong, robust flavors and colors.”

Among Zamarra’s favorite fall root vegetables is parsnip. Last fall, he made pear parsnip foam and served it with a roasted oyster dish. This fall, he plans to work with another versatile veg: sunchokes. Zamarra is considering all kinds of preparations for this species of sunflower, also known as the Jerusalem artichoke, from roasting and frying to puréeing for soups and serving raw in salads.

At Amis and Lo Spiedo, two of the Vetri Family of restaurants in Philadelphia, culinary director and partner Brad Spence likes to “stay out of the way of ingredients.”

Last Fall at Almanac, chef Galen Zamarra served oysters with pear parsnip foam. Photo: Almanac

“There’s so much sweetness in root vegetables,” Spence said. “The American palate loves sweetness. So when you roast them, people love them.”

At Amis, Spence chunks up roasted root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips and even sweet potato, tosses them in almond pesto and serves them with Greek yogurt. And at Lo Spiedo, where all the food is cooked over a wood-burning flame, he roasts root veggies whole, marinates them, chops them into small pieces, tosses them with some roasted scallions and then serves them with romesco sauce. This fall, Spence will add thinly sliced parsnips, carrots and celery root to his staple pasta, a humble fettuccine made with bacon, pasta water, olive oil and pecorino cheese.

Also keeping root veggies simple is Nicole Pederson, chef of Found in Evanston, Ill. Pederson uses roots vegetables in her signature Turmeric and Root Vegetable Stew, made with heirloom grains, tofu and coconut milk. Pederson says the stew allows the produce to star, and the dish has become a classic among customers.

Inspired by traditional food preservation techniques and the popularity of dishes such as kimchi, Zach Meloy, executive chef and co-owner of Better Half in Atlanta, is experimenting with fermenting root vegetables.

“Most people don’t think about root vegetables when they think about fermentation,” Meloy said. “But it’s definitely starting to have its heyday.”

Currently, Meloy is thinking about fermenting sliced celery root and pairing it with sorghum-glazed pork loin, apple marmalade and charred onion miso. He is also considering giving celery root a European flavor profile by fermenting it with garlic, celery seed, caraway seed and salt.

“I’m doing this straight up for the flavor,” Meloy said. “It’s a neat way to add a bunch of different aspects to a dish. The flavor is great and unexpected.”

This fall at Farm Burger, a locally sourced burger chain with locations in Atlanta; Ashville, N.C.; and Berkley, Calif., chef Cameron Thompson will add turnip tots with ginger aïoli to the menu. The tots are similar to traditional grated potato tater tots, but made with turnips.

“While potatoes are great, sometimes you want to do something different — something you have never done before,” Thompson said. “I like using root veggie recipes that are simple, where you can taste the flavors of the vegetable. I’m not a fan of drowning these flavors in cream, like with a gratin.”