Make the most of winter’s delicious root vegetables with these clever ideas that will take you beyond soups and roasts.
Parsnips - With a delicate, sweet and nutty flavour, parsnips love both sweet and savoury partners. Slice into sticks, drizzle with oil, and roast with a little honey, then sprinkle with lemon juice and hazelnut or walnut oil. Steam or boil till tender then purée with cream, grated parmesan, and white pepper (add a touch of truffle oil or truffle salt if you fancy it). This makes a nice alternative to bechamel in lasagne, or as a base for a rich beef casserole. Make parsnips crisps by very thinly slicing parsnips lengthways (you could use a mandoline or peeler), tossing with neutral oil, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper, spreading them out on a baking sheet and cooking in a hot oven until crisp. They are also delicious grated into cakes like you would carrot.
Beetroot - Earthy-tasting with a glorious colour, beetroot is very versatile. Julienne it and add to a slaw with red cabbage, carrot, spring onion, toasted seeds and cubes of grilled halloumi dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil. Beetroot loves goat’s cheese – marry them on savoury tarts, in salads, and in dips. Make an eye-catching tarte tatin with root vegetables by tossing thin discs of beetroot, parsnips and waxy potatoes in oil and baking till just almost cooked through. Heat honey, thyme leaves with a little water, vinegar, and seasoning until bubbling, pour into a tart tin, arrange vegetable slices and dabs of goat’s cheese in tin, then drape over a sheet of butter pastry, tucking edges around the vegetable. Brush pastry with butter, bake until golden, then cool a bit before carefully inverting the tart onto a serving plate.
Carrots - Carrots love Middle Eastern spices. Toss with ras el hanout, finely chopped preserved lemon, and olive oil and roast until tender, then serve with harissa-swirled thick yoghurt. Spike carrot soup with cumin, cinnamon, chilli and paprika. The simple French classic salade des carottes râpées is the perfect refreshing foil for rich stews and bakes: finely grate a mountain of carrot and toss through a dressing made with lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt, and a little Dijon mustard. Keep it this simple, or add fresh herbs, golden raisins, grated beetroot, toasted nuts if you like.
Radishes - Adding a colour pop, crunch and peppery bite, radishes are perfect for salads and garnishes. They’re also great roasted – wash them and halve any large ones, toss with olive oil and crushed cloves of garlic, and roast until tender. Petite, fresh radishes make a lovely starter when simply cleaned up and served whole with a bowl of premium salt (or dukkah if you like) and your best olive oil to dip into. Make quick pickles of them by slicing as you like (thin circles or chunky quarters) and covering with a mix of apple cider vinegar and water with a little sugar and salt that has been brought to a boil then cooled – let it infuse for ten mins before eating, and they’ll keep in a jar in the fridge for a week.
Daikon - This oversized white radish is beloved in Japanese kitchens. Daikon no nimono is a winter favourite that sees the peppery flavour mellowed: slice daikon into thick discs and braise in dashi with mirin, saké, sugar and soy, until al dente. Serve in the broth with steamed rice, and optional crispy fried pork mince on top. Slice a large daikon into very thin circles and marinate overnight in water with rice vinegar and a little salt, then use the daikon as ‘wrappers’ for fillings like grilled salmon, beef, or five-spice roasted duck, julienned carrot and spring onion, crushed peanuts, and coriander – serve with a hoisin-lime dipping sauce.