Food

The World Beyond potatoes

January 29, 2016

The term root vegetable is a general one, referring to vegetables from botanical families that store nutrients either in their edible roots or in the underground stems called tubers. Beyond the bins of sweet potatoes and potatoes you’ll discover a whole new realm of rich flavours and textures, as well as bodacious amounts of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamins, etc.

Salsify 

Goatsbeard, or salsify, is popular in both Europe and the southern United States. Salsify, cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans, was a popular kitchen-garden vegetable in 18th- and 19th-century America, when it was valued as a blood purifier. These days, it’s considered a good source of vitamin C, some B vitamins, potassium, and inulin etc.

The flowers and stems are not eaten; it’s the pungent root that is popular. Because it tastes somewhat like oysters, this fishy-flavoured root is often called oyster plant. It is used to add savory flavor to everything from soups to stews.

Burdock (aka gobo) 

This long, cylindrical root grows wild throughout much of the world, but it’s probably native to Asia.

Chinese introduced burdock to the Japanese as a medicine about 1,000 years ago, but the Japanese are responsible for its use as a culinary plant. Its earthy flavor ranges from mild to assertive, depending on the age and quality of the roots. Try burdock in stir-fries or an Asian-inspired braise such as kinpira.

Celery root (aka celeriac) 

Celery root and regular bunch celery are varieties of the same Mediterranean plant, and they contain similar nutrients, including iron, folate, calcium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. Celery root has a milder, more complex flavor, and raw preparations showcase its earthy sweetness as well as its fine-grained texture. Cooked, it doesn’t turn starchy but gives velvety body to soups and purees. It’s also delicious simply cut into pieces, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted until tender and golden.

Jerusalem artichoke (aka Sunchoke) 

This crisp, knobbly little tuber comes from a type of North American sunflower. The name Sunchoke was trademarked in 1980 by Frieda Caplan, a specialty produce wholesaler in Los Angeles who has always been ahead of the curve. It has a high content of the indigestible carbohydrate inulin, which stimulates prebiotic activity (i.e., a healthy balance of microorganisms) in the large intestine. Jerusalem artichokes are rich not only with vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium but a good amount of iron (3 mg iron per 100 mg, which is comparable to the iron content of meats)—as well as a sweet, nutty flavor with a subtle yet definite hint of artichoke hearts. The tubers can be roasted whole until tender or quickly sautéed to retain their snap.

Parsley root 

This type of parsley has been selectively bred for its root (which is high in potassium) since early medieval times. It’s smaller than the more familiar parsnip, and while it lacks that vegetable’s characteristic sweetness, it makes up for it with an herbaceous parsley like punch and an elusive earthiness reminiscent of celery root. Many gardeners enjoy growing it because they get a twofer: fresh leaves throughout the summer and roots harvested in the fall. Parsley root is integral to many an old-school Jewish chicken soup, and it adds an aromatic depth and complexity to braises, mashes, or a root-vegetable hash.

Parsnip 

This sweet, juicy cousin to parsley root, celery root, and carrot may look unprepossessing, but it’s a good source of vitamins (in particular, C and B complex) and minerals such as iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. Although parsnips have a great affinity for creamy sauces, they are just as delicious when roasted or cooked and mashed with potatoes. Counter the root’s sweetness with dark leafy pot greens such as kale, the smokiness of bacon or ham, or the brininess of capers or anchovies.

Rutabaga (aka yellow turnip, swede) 

This member of the nutritional all-star Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) family is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium, beta-carotene, and fiber. Peppery and assertively flavored, rutabagas are wonderful raw, as a snack, or diced or shredded in a salad. Cut them into matchsticks and sauté, or if you have more time, cut them into chunks and roast with other root vegetables. They are especially delicious in purees, whether alone or paired with potatoes.

Turnip 

This root is a brassica, like the rutabaga. It’s very high in vitamin C and sulfuric compounds, particularly glucosinolates, which are thought to have antioxidant properties. The purple-topped turnip, which is common this time of year, has a clean, peppery bite and is a cornerstone of many a soup and stew. Turnips give a great balance to a mixture of roasted root vegetables, and they cut the richness in a potato mash or gratin. They also make a light, fresh-tasting puree.

Sweet Potatoes & Yams 

Among the most usable, user-friendly, and palatable roots, sweet potatoes and yams are great mashed, pureed and made into soup, roasted, and baked into muffins, cookies, pancakes and so much more. Yams are often confused with sweet potatoes, and although they can be used interchangeably, there is a difference.

Beets 

Touted as a superfood, beets are among the healthiest foods on the planet. They’re full of beta-carotene and betalains, which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory. Beets have an earthy, sweet flavor, and are best when roasted, steamed, or left raw and shredded. Golden beets are typically slightly sweeter than red beets.

Kohlrabi 

Relative of wild cabbage, this unique-looking vegetable has been hailed as one of the 150 healthiest foods on Earth. It is most commonly consumed in India, and is a staple in the Kashmiri diet. Pretty much everything on this plant is edible. Fry up the root for some kohlrabi fries, toss the leaves in a salad, or chomp on the crisp, juicy stems for a low-calorie snack.Underneath the thick skin and strange tentacles of kohlrabi lies juicy, crisp flesh. Kohlrabi can be cooked or left raw, and it makes delicious oven-baked fries. It can also be made into a mash, pureed into soup, or sliced thinly and added to salads.

Black Radish 

An heirloom vegetable with a rough black root that must be peeled before being eaten, this radish has a distinctive bitter taste. The Black radish was first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean and is believed to be a relative of the wild radish. An ancient vegetable, radishes were grown in Egypt even before the pyramids were built. In the 19th century they were a popular variety of radish in England and France. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and also provide potassium, iron and magnesium as well as vitamins A, E and B. They are also known for their ability to fight off infection and promote healthy digestive function.Today,the Black radish is commonly utilized to make herbal supplements available in capsule and tincture form and used to treat a variety of health aliments.It can be shaved into salads, but is also good boiled and mashed.

Daikon

A mild-flavored East Asian white radish. Daikon is is root vegetable said to have originated in the Mediterranean and brought to China for cultivation around 500 B.C.

It is most prevalent in Japanese cooking, where it is often pickled and used as a garnish or condiment. Daikon is very low in calories. A 3-ounce serving contains only 18 calories and provides 34 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. Rich in vitamin C, daikon contains active enzymes that aid digestion, particularly of starchy foods

Jicama 

Jicama is native to Mexico and Central America. Low in calories but high in a few vital nutrients, jicama provides one-quarter of what’s needed daily in fiber per serving. But not just any fiber – jicama’s fiber is infused with oligofructose inulin. Jicama is also an excellent source of vitamin C – 44% of the daily value per serving. Sweet and Spicy, they add great crunch to a salad, or eaten traditionally with a little lime juice and chile powder.

Lotus Root 

Crunchy, delicate flavoured, lotus root is an edible rhizome (root) of lotus plant. It is popular as renkon in the Japan. Since centuries, lotus has held high esteem in the far East regions, especially in Chinese and Japanese cultures. They are a good source of minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.A crisp fibrous texture with a mild distinctive flavour similar to an artichoke makes them great mashed or fried.

Malanga 

These vegetables come from some of the oldest root crops in the world and were first cultivated in the Caribbean and Central America. Resembling a yam, the flavor is earthy, and has a similarity to nuts. This root vegetable in your diet can help you meet your daily fiber and potassium needs. Plus, it’s considered one of the least allergenic foods, according to the University of Florida, making it a good choice for anyone with severe food allergies.

Maroon Carrots

This carrot is a deep wine color on the outside with a brilliant orange within. They contain more beta carotene than their orange counterparts, and they have antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which give the carrots their distinctive purple color. They are rich in flavor and have smooth, edible skins. Sweeter and crunchier than the orange variety, they add color and flavor to salads or soups.

Name Root

Shaped like a long sweet potato, the flesh is creamy or yellow in colour while its skin can be light brown, dark brown or tan. It is somewhat nutty with a slightly chewy texture similar to a potato. Grown throughout the tropics as well as West Africa, China, Korea, the South Pacific, India and the Caribbean, Name is often saved for special occasions and is considered a festival food in Cuba. Extremely versatile, Name can be baked, boiled, steamed, scalloped, fried or creamed.

Parmex Carrot

A classic round-rooted carrot with an outstanding flavour and lovely crunchy texture.Originally from France, these carrots are wonderfully tender with a very smooth skin.

Purple Dragon Carrot

Their unique color reflects their healthy phytochemical constituents. Not only does the Purple variety have the vitamin A and beta-carotene of ordinary carrots—evident by its orange center—it’s also rich in anthocyanins, the antioxidant compounds that give blueberries their distinctive color and superfood health benefits. Studies have found that these blue and purple pigments can improve memory, enhance vision, protect against heart attacks, act as anti-inflammatories, and even help control weight. The carrot itself is sweet and a little spicy. They are lovely chopped into salads.

White Satin Carrot

This is one of the most mild flavored carrots, with a sweetness to it and a crispy texture. They still share the same nutritional strength of their orange cousins.

Boniato

Boniato is a relatively unknown root vegetable that originated in Peru and Colombia more than 3,000 years ago. In the U.S. they are mainly grown in southeast Florida. There is no cholesterol in boniato, almost no fat and little protein. This tuber does have a lot of fiber and vitamin C.It is fluffier, drier and less sweet than a traditional sweet potato.

Cranberry Red Potato 

Cranberry Red potatoes are an heirloom variety that are also known as ‘all-red’ potatoes. This potato has a brilliant cranberry-red skin with a rosy tie-dyed swirled flesh. Cranberry Red potatoes have a moist texture that is ideal for boiling or sautéing and will hold their rich coloring throughout cooking.

Oca 

Grown in the Central and Southern Andes, the flavour is slightly tangy and the texture is crunchy until cooked when it can become mealy.Though this colorful root vegetable was originally cultivated in the Andes of South America, it is also sometimes called the “New Zealand yam” due to its popularity there after being introduced in the mid-1800s. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and iron.

There are many different varieties of oca, so the flavors can vary. But in general, they are tangier and sweeter than potatoes, and can range from starchy to almost fruitlike. In fact, the “apricot” variety grown in New Zealand tastes much like its namesake fruit.

Okinawa Sweet Potato 

The Okinawan sweet potato is not related to the potato but is actually in the morning glory family. Native to the Americas, it was brought to Japan sometime between 1492 and 1605. The hardy plant grew well in Japan and quickly became popular in a variety of Japanese dishes.When it eventually made its way to the Hawaiian Islands, brought by the Polynesians, the crop flourished in the rich volcanic soil.The primary nutritional benefit, and the one for which Okinawan sweet potatoes are especially prized, is their high antioxidant levels.

The antioxidant known as anthocyanin is the pigment which is responsible for the brilliant purple color of the flesh. It is the same pigment that gives blueberries, red grapes and red cabbage their color. The Okinawan sweet potato actually has 150 percent more antioxidants than blueberries.

Peruvian Purple Potato

 

Purple potatoes are a type of potato popular in South America, with their origins in Peru and Bolivia. Purple potatoes are very similar to the popular russet potatoes in nutritional value. The one significant difference between purple potatoes and Russet potatoes is the antioxidant content; purple potatoes contain 4 times as much antioxidants as Russet potatoes.

Cassava Root 

This root serves as the third largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the world. The root is long and tapered, and the vegetable is also referred to as Yuca. When raw, Cassava tastes like a mix between potato and coconut, but once it is cooked it takes on a delicate flavor and could replace potatoes in many dishes.

Arracacha

Peruvian parsnip; They have a slightly sweet, nutty flavour, like a cross between celeriac and chestnut. Though used widely as a culinary analog for potato (roasted, boiled, soups, pastas, gnocchi, chips etc…) it requires considerably less cultivation inputs whether it be fertiliser or effort spent heaping and mounding.

Tiger Nuts 

 

TigerNuts are not nuts, but tubers, small root vegetables which comprised up to 80% of our Paleo ancestors’ diet around 2 million years ago. This ancient superfood originates from Africa. It is currently cultivated in West Africa and the mediterranean. TigerNuts are a good source of Resistant Starch, a prebiotic fiber that resists digestion and becomes fuel for our probiotic bacteria. One ounce of TigerNuts has 40% of our daily recommended fiber.

Note: While they offer a load of benefits, portion control is still important when it comes to root vegetables, especially if you’re struggling to reach and maintain a healthy weight, stabilise blood sugar, reduce overall sugar in your diet, or reverse and treat diabetes.

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62 Comments

  • Reply Aria on January 29, 2016 says;

    You are back with a bang! The blog looks very beautiful with your new design. And to compliment your new blog style, This post is blowing my mind off. Its a fantastic post. Very very detail and beautiful pictures!

  • Reply Tulani on January 29, 2016 says;

    Great post! I enjoyed reading this post.

  • Reply Kasia on January 29, 2016 says;

    Beautiful post P. I’m love with all your pictures.

  • Reply Amina Omari on January 29, 2016 says;

    Amazing pictures. You post gives immense knowledge. Little did I know that these many root vegetables really existed!

  • Reply Alma on January 29, 2016 says;

    آخر الجميلة. الحب موقع الويب الخاص بك! جيد جدا القيام به

  • Reply Katherine on January 29, 2016 says;

    My dear P, You have redone your website? This is now looking very neat. I love your Logo. Its a great idea to have such a logo. Your web blog is absolutely stunning. Congrats for this great change. About the post, yet another quality and a comprehensive post. I really did not know these many root vegetables. I knew about 6 or say at the most 10, but you have given a best set out here. Wonderful. Thanks and have a great day ahead. Keep up your good work.

  • Reply Thalia on January 29, 2016 says;

    What an excellent post with beautiful pictures.. Thanks for sharing

  • Reply Tamika on January 29, 2016 says;

    Thank you for this fine guide. I shared it with my small circle of friends on my Facebook page

  • Reply Alexandra on January 29, 2016 says;

    Love this root vegetable inspiration – so often, root vegetables don’t get the respect they deserve. I love using them in stews and roasting them.

  • Reply Grace on January 29, 2016 says;

    I’ve really fallen in love with roasted root vegetables this winter

  • Reply Olivia on January 29, 2016 says;

    What a delicious and informative post. I don’t think I’ve had kohlrabi before. Beautiful set of pictures!

  • Reply Zahara on January 29, 2016 says;

    I’ve been thinking about making Kohlrabi slaw for quite some time now. I’ll let ya know how it turns out! 😀

  • Reply Agnus D on January 29, 2016 says;

    Fabulous post. Have been wondering what is the knowledge capacity you have. You always have some post of the other which is really different abruptly from the previous. Every single post here has a depth of information. Great work shown in this blog. Keep this consistent and don’t get distracted or do not abandon this beautiful ship. God bless you.

    Nice and professional looking blog now! Hope you have not spent a lot 🙂

  • Reply Ambrosini Ami on January 29, 2016 says;

    cutting edge information (like cutting edge technology) I think Knowledge makes you hungry, so your posting like crazy.. I mean, couple of your last posts are banging the bell constantly and is making a good impact on the readers. Good luck

  • Reply Janice on January 29, 2016 says;

    Quality post. You have knocked the socks off over here. Variety of Root Vegetables, jaw dropping Pictures, A neat and well maintained blog. You have gotten there already, trust me! My best wishes 🙂

  • Reply jules on January 29, 2016 says;

    Hi,

    I have been seeing your posts right from the inception of your blog I guess. The way you started off, and the way you have grown now. You have really got the hang of it now. In a short span, I have seen a great deal of improvement in your style. The pictures have become more better. You are a good story teller.

    All the very best to you.

  • Reply Riley Jones on January 29, 2016 says;

    I will ask you not to change the design any more. This is just beautiful. The font is very legible, and the colors are just perfect. You have made the best match in terms of design to this brilliant blog. Your post is fantastic. I did not really know that these many were really something that one can gulp. Now that I know, I have saved this list and I’m going to see what I can cook with this.

  • Reply Puja Santosh on January 29, 2016 says;

    P, this design looks awesome! I knew only 5 vegetables, you have just thrown out a lot more. Any recipes?

  • Reply Emma Brown on January 29, 2016 says;

    You can write anything under the sun. I admire your skills. If you aren’t working, you must get into the publishing industry. You will do excellent.

  • Reply rain77 on January 29, 2016 says;

    This post is truly amazing and so helpful! I can’t wait to venture into the world of root vegetables, which – I have to admit it – I’ve never really used and/or appreciated much in the culinary field. But things are going to change over here! Thanks so much for these little guide and helpful tips!

  • Reply Eva on January 29, 2016 says;

    Roots definitely help expand your cooking horizons. Beautiful written article !

  • Reply Linda on January 29, 2016 says;

    This is such a great resource for root veggies!

  • Reply Angie on January 29, 2016 says;

    A huge fan of root veggies! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Lily Howarth on January 29, 2016 says;

    And it is official…I can now confirm that the root vegetables are most definitely my favourites!

  • Reply Darcy McIntyre on January 29, 2016 says;

    thanks for sharing this. I am always curious about what to do with them esp the kohlrabi

  • Reply Meagan on January 29, 2016 says;

    I LOVE this post. Root veggies need more love and you did a brilliant job with this post. Sharing, pinning, and implementing in my own kitchen.

  • Reply Holly on January 29, 2016 says;

    Thanks for the comprehensive overview of so many root vegetables.

  • Reply Isabella on January 29, 2016 says;

    what an awesome guide! You’re so smart. Teach me to be like you.

  • Reply Julia Rudich on January 29, 2016 says;

    bahaha! most root vegetables need a lot of love before they become delicious…but when they do, they do, man! 🙂 We’ll make roots galore one day soon

  • Reply Kelly @ Texas Type A Mom on January 29, 2016 says;

    Excellent post! Done and compiled very well ~Kelly

  • Reply Laura on January 29, 2016 says;

    I recently discovered kohlrabi, but i’m not sure it’s in season year round. I get this in my csa box in the spring. But worth seeking out. I have a great salad recipe using it on my blog: http://www.thetableblog.com/2013/06/kohlrabi-apple-and-carrot-salad/

  • Reply Joanne on January 29, 2016 says;

    This is such a great guide! I have the hardest time telling the difference between turnips and rutabagas…definitely pulling this up when I’m at the store and can’t tell which is which!

  • Reply marquis @realrawkitchen on January 29, 2016 says;

    I love this post!! Oh my goodness, it is so full of information and ideas. So many recipes have items listed that aren’t very easy to find if you’re not quite sure what to look for .. so this is great!

  • Reply Dearna @tohercore on January 29, 2016 says;

    Love this comprehensive wrap up, so useful! I’ve never cooked with rutabagas, yuka root or kohlrabi before, keen to give it a go though 🙂 Thanks!

  • Reply [email protected] on January 29, 2016 says;

    This is such a great guide. And I think you mentioned almost all of my favorite foods when listing what complements beets! I think I love them raw and shredded best.

  • Reply Abbie Haynes on January 29, 2016 says;

    I’m amazed at how delicious simple foods like this can be! Glad you put out this guide.

  • Reply Ash-foodfashionparty on January 29, 2016 says;

    I am totally inspired to go out and grab some.
    Well written post. I love root vegetable in every form.

  • Reply Kira - HealthAble Old Soul on January 29, 2016 says;

    I appreciate the guide to vegetables that may be not explored as others! By the way, I LOVE the layout for your guide it is beautiful!

  • Reply EA-The Spicy Rd on January 29, 2016 says;

    Really fabulous post. I am a huge fan of (most) root veggies, not only for their nutritional value and delicious taste, but also because they keep so long 🙂 I just bought some kohlrabi the other day…any favorite recipes to share???

  • Reply Betty on January 29, 2016 says;

    This is a great post? I can’t wait to share it with my friends :). Thanks!

  • Reply Samantha @FerraroKitchen on January 29, 2016 says;

    This is such a great post! hubby needs to eat less meat as do I in general. So we are working on incorporating MORE veggies! I also like to tell people to eat the greens of beets.

  • Reply Ursula on January 29, 2016 says;

    Great information is articulated here. I love your blog and the post!

  • Reply Kathryn Grace on January 29, 2016 says;

    Fantastic post! Very well written! Thank you for sharing

  • Reply calensariel on January 29, 2016 says;

    Héy! Il ya tellement ici. Je suis impatient de lire tout cela. Merci

  • Reply Teresa on January 29, 2016 says;

    Very good.

  • Reply Lisbon on January 29, 2016 says;

    This is very good. Didn’t take anywhere near as long as 30 solid minutes to read 😀

    Never the less, it was a fantastic Read. Thank you so much for a wonderful post like this.

  • Reply Wendy R. on January 29, 2016 says;

    This is simply an OUTSTANDING post!

  • Reply Serina on January 29, 2016 says;

    Elegant in its simplicity. Beautiful blog. Nice posts and the layout is very elegant!
    Love your post and your posts! Great work.

  • Reply Fe van dam on January 29, 2016 says;

    Worthy post! Good quality

  • Reply Sabína on January 29, 2016 says;

    This is an excellent post!

  • Reply Tori Avey on January 29, 2016 says;

    The pictures of your food are so beautiful.

  • Reply Sanjeeta kk on January 29, 2016 says;

    Post sounds great. Do you have any complimenting recipes of the same. Tomorrow being a week end I could trying something.

  • Reply Alessandra on January 29, 2016 says;

    This looks incredible! I love, love, love roasting vegetables; the transformation is incredible!

  • Reply Amy Ayers on January 29, 2016 says;

    These photos here are very beautiful. Lovely post. In-depth and to the point. Beatifully done once again.

  • Reply Andrea @ pencils and pancakes on January 29, 2016 says;

    Roasting= amazing. Haha beets totally make my counter look like a murder scene!!

  • Reply Emily on January 29, 2016 says;

    Beautiful post! Love the look and feel of your web site!

  • Reply Linda on January 29, 2016 says;

    Wow this looks soon awesome. great images. captivating post!

  • Reply [email protected] on January 29, 2016 says;

    Amazin post! Never ever thought these many root vegetables existed!

  • Reply Mary H on January 29, 2016 says;

    Beautiful blog and this post is so much awesome. Thanks for the share.

  • Reply Nicole on January 29, 2016 says;

    Hi! I just found your blog & love your approach to food and living a healthy lifestyle! I can’t wait to read more of your great ideas!

  • Reply Erin on January 29, 2016 says;

    Oh my gosh – I used to read your blog when you first started. I’m glad I found it again

  • Reply Thelma J. Godfrey on January 30, 2016 says;

    Hey P, your blog has got a great uplift. I love the readability in this design more. You have done a great work on this blog, not only in terms of this design, but also i terms of your content. Your pictures are very very beautiful. This is indeed a great blog my dear. It looks beautiful in Reader View too.

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