What’s in season: When it comes to root vegetables, carrots probably get the most attention. But there’s so much more to enjoy beneath the surface. Root vegetables — including parsnips, turnips and rutabagas — are generally in season from late fall through the winter months, perfect for a variety of cold-weather preparations. Beneath the unassuming and often bland exterior, root vegetables can have a surprising depth of flavor, earthy when older but often quite sweet when you find smaller, younger versions.
What to cook: Toss chopped root vegetables with a little oil and seasoning, maybe some chopped herbs and garlic, and roast for a simple side. Grate them for a variation on latkes, or thinly slice them to use in a rich gratin. Use the vegetables to lend depth to a slow-cooked stew, or purée them, finishing with cream and a touch of spice for a simple soup.
What’s on the horizon: While you can find broccoli and cauliflower year-round at the supermarket, the vegetables are just coming into season, with deep green heads of broccoli and varieties of cauliflower — including Italian Romanesco, known for its spiraling pointed cones — showing up at farmers market stalls now through spring.
TURNIPS GLAZED WITH SHERRY VINEGAR
Total time: 30 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
1 3/4 pounds small Japanese turnips (about 12 small turnips with 1 inch of stems attached)
2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick)
2 tablespoons minced shallot (1 small shallot)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1. Peel the turnips and cut into quarters, leaving the stems attached. Place the turnips in a large skillet with one-half cup water, the butter, shallot and salt. Stir well, cover tightly and place over medium-high heat. Cook until the turnips just begin to become tender but are still slightly crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Let the liquid boil off and continue cooking, without stirring, until you see the bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan begin to brown. Add the walnuts, stir and continue cooking until the turnips are covered in an irregular brown glaze, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the sherry vinegar. Stir to mix well and scrape up some of the brown glaze from the bottom of the pan (you won’t get it all). Serve immediately.
Each serving: 99 calories; 2 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 7 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 10 mg. cholesterol; 460 mg. sodium.