I recently had lunch with two good friends and their adorable 2 year-old daughter. We were munching on dim sum at a local Chinese restaurant (fun fact: 2 year-olds are highly intrigued by food in bundles and traveling carts full of appetizers. Makes me feel like I’m doing a good job of appeasing my inner child, given that I love both of those things!), and the couple mentioned that they had recently joined a CSA.
For those who think that sounds like a New Deal program or a branch of the Secret Service, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. When you join a CSA (which is regional, often organized through individual farms or your city / county), you essentially buy a weekly share in a local farm’s produce harvest for a given year. Your share supports the farmer’s work and livelihood, and it also results in you receiving a big ol’ delivery of whatever produce happens to be in season.
… which results, in my friend’s words, in the following sorts of conversations: “So, that’s a rutabaga, apparently.” “Do you peel it?” “What’s it actually used for?” “Is it similar to other root veggies?” “Can we eat the outside?” “Um … let’s ask the interwebs.” But the benefit of such culinary exploration is two-fold: First, you learn more about unexpected and highly local produce. Second, your veggie intake expands, well, exponentially. Win-win-win! (3 wins, if you count the farmers involved.) Cool, huh?
Which leads me, once again, to Gwyneth Paltrow. How? Her book, My Father’s Daughter, has a killer recipe for wintry root vegetables — much like those filling the delivery boxes of CSA participants everywhere this time of year. These Maple Dijon Roasted Root Veggies are a great way to use those unexpected root veggies, including rutabagas, parsnips, yams, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes of any variety. (Purple potatoes would be fabulous here, if you have them, as would white sweet potatoes.) The combination of flavors — earthy & spicy Dijon mustard, subtly sweet maple syrup — marries perfectly with the root veggies as they roast, and the natural sugars resulting from the caramelization process are, in a hyphenated word, melt-in-your-mouth-good.
Maple Dijon Roasted Root Veggies — serves 4-6 side dish-sized servings.
Originally published in My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow (Grand Central Life & Style, 2012). These would be deeelicious with pork chops & a crisp white wine.
- 3 tbsp real maple syrup (no cheating with Aunt Jemima!)
- 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3-inch sticks, about 1/2 inch thick (like steak fries)
- 4 parsnips, or 2 parsnips & 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut like the sweet potatoes above
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut like the sweet potatoes above
NOTE: You can substitute other root veggies, too (butternut squash, white sweet potatoes, etc.); you may have to adjust cooking time slightly, depending on which veggies you’re using, but the method should work just the same.
Here’s what you do:
- Preheat the oven to 425°F
- Mix together the maple syrup, mustard, olive oil, salt & pepper. Toss together with the veggies on a cookie sheet until well-coated. Roast, stirring / flipping occasionally, until browned and cooked through (about 25 minutes).
- Eat. A lot.
Roasting veggies adds an incredible depth of flavor, and you just can’t beat that tangy-and-sweet dressing. Do y’all oven roast your root vegetables? Or, even better, are you members of local CSAs? The History Teacher and I have looked into it, and if we end up joining, I’ll keep you posted on our new deliveries. Happy Eating!