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There's nothing square about root vegetables, with 12 recipes

Russ Parsons
The California Cook
Our bet for the next big thing in the farmers market? Root vegetables. And here's why.

If I had to predict the next produce item to become a big crossover hit, it would be root vegetables. It’s a no-brainer really: They’re sweet but not in a simple way. They’re earthy, but not off-puttingly so. And they’re immensely forgiving. You almost can’t mess up a root vegetable.

Why are they still so underappreciated? It might have something to do with their stodgy image, or their distinctive bland coloring (50 shades of beige just is not sexy). Or maybe it’s a simple matter of too many over-boiled turnips (notice, I said you almost can’t mess them up — nothing is foolproof, not even a turnip).

But I still insist that it’s time for parsnips, turnips and rutabagas to have their day. Glaze them, grate them, bake them in a gratin; it’s time to get familiar with root vegetables.

Though they're commonly lumped together as a single entity — granted, they share many traits and, in fact, can be used more or less interchangeably with slightly different results — each root does have its own character. Parsnips are sweet; turnips have a slight horseradish edge. Rutabagas are somewhere in between.

Here are a dozen ideas to get you started on your way.

How to choose: Select root vegetables that are firm, with no soft spots or discoloration. If there are tops attached, make sure they're fresh and green. Avoid roots that have lots of hairy secondary roots.

How to store: Refrigerate in a tightly sealed plastic bag.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1

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