Week 2 Assignment – Beets and Rutabaga

When it comes to veggies I usually go for the ones that are quickest to prepare (no peeling, easy to cut, fits readily into a stir fry).  So this week I tried some recipes that required more veggie prep work and methods I do not often use (specifically: mashing and using the oven for something other than cookies) After consulting a chart of seasonal vegetables in MN, I looked for recipes that included:

  • Beets: I like eating them but find their propensity to stain everything intimidating.
  • Rutabaga: I was curious what this vegetable looked like, because it has such a funny name.  Also I like mashed potatoes, and the recipe said that mashed rutabaga is better reheated.
  • Parsnip (bonus!): I unintentionally picked a recipe that called for this (new to me) veggie.

I hate shopping with a profound burning passion – so spending the extra time to track down the new ingredients wasn’t great.  It was kind of fun though to look more closely at produce I usually zip past on my way to my usual items

Recipe #1: Roasted Beets

  • 8 beets
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar  (substituted apple cider vinegar)
  • Juice of 1 large orange

Instructions:

Remove the tops and the roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler.   Cut the beets in 1 1/2-inch chunks. Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, thyme leaves, salt, and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice. Remove from the oven and immediately toss with the vinegar and orange juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

This is my favorite of the recipes I tried. There was beet juice everywhere for pretty much every step, but the spices and vinegar created a unique, interesting flavor –  much stronger than what I normally eat.

Recipe #2: Creamy, Whipped Rutabaga

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds rutabagas (two small or one large vegetable)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • black pepper

Instructions:

Heat the butter in a large, heavy 4-quart pot, set over medium heat. When the butter has melted, stir in the chopped rutabaga and the garlic. Stir to coat the vegetables in butter, then sprinkle them with the salt. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the rutabaga is very tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let the vegetables cool for about 5 minutes. Drop the cream cheese into the rutabaga and use a mixer to mash it into the vegetables. Add the olive oil and smoked paprika and mix thoroughly. Taste and add more salt and some black pepper, if necessary.

I lost patience with the mixer I was borrowing from my roommate (and did not really know how to use), so the final product still had some large chunks of rutabaga. Consistency aside it turned out pretty well for a first go at a mashed vegetables.

Recipe #3:  Lentil Soup with Rutabaga

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 large rutabaga, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Cook and stir olive oil, onion, carrots, parsnips, and rutabaga in a soup pot over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften, about five minutes. Mix vegetable broth into vegetables and bring to a boil. Add lentils, dried thyme, bay leaves, and parsley. Reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.

I couldn’t find a couple of the ingredients at the store (fennel and golden beets), so I did without.  Most of the liquid boiled off during the 35 minutes of simmering so it was much closer to a stew than a soup.  Filling, but not a lot of flavor.

I ate roughly the same amount of vegetables (and fruits) this week – just different ones.  It can be hard to get through a bulk quantity of one type of vegetable before it goes bad, although certainly some vegetables (like the ones I purchased this week) last longer.

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