Saturday, December 12, 2009

Root Inspiration

So...I was at the commissary buying materials for the alfredo recipe I was telling you all about yesterday when I got lost in the produce section. For the first time in years, I entered the produce section as a novice because I will be using vegetables for different things than before, now. Having been inspired by a Mock Pot Roast recipe that I read a few days ago, I began picking up root vegetables I had never tasted or eaten roasted with reckless abandon. I loaded up my cart with lovely roots and tubers and headed for the checkout...resolved. The picture on the left, here is just part of the glorious booty I brought home. Starting clockwise at the top left, you'll see parsnips, Japanese sweet potatoes, pearl onions, Japanese carrots, acorn squash, lemon, sweet onion, and tarro root. Aren't they lovely? The following post is devoted to showing you the gorgeous meal we enjoyed from these and the steps I took in preparing it.

1:29 Project Root Roast with Gravy

Clockwise from upper left, you'll see the brilliant purple color of the Japanese sweet potatoes. They taste very much like our own orange-fleshed sweets, but they have a very pleasing, smooth texture. The second photo is a cutaway so you can see the flesh of a tarro root tuber. I had never tasted one before tonight. The third photograph is me seeding an adorable, nutty little acorn squash. Finally, you see the size and shape of a fine Japanese carrot. They taste like our own carrots...just sweeter than any carrot of that size we find in the US. These very large carrots taste like baby carrots. They're incredible.

So, my first job was to peel and chop. The second step was to steam all the root veggies for about 10 minutes to get them good and soft. The picture to the left is all the veggies in the colander I use for steaming suspended over a spaghetti pot. Just put the spaghetti pot lid over the colander, and voila! No fancy steamer basket needed. While the vegetables were getting fork tender, I peeled the pearl onions and chopped some celery and put them in my stone roasting pan. I poured the steamed roots over that, sprinkled with chopped fresh savory leaves, salt, and pepper, and then drizzled the whole thing with extra virgin olive oil. I roasted the whole thing at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

While everything was in the oven, I made a gravy mixture from dry onion soup mix, a can of pre-made mushroom gravy (I checked both labels scrupulously for non-vegan ingredients), and some water to thin it out. This step was inspired by the recipe I linked to above. After the veggies had roasted 1/2 hour, I removed them from the oven and poured my gravy sauce over the whole thing and put it all back in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. As I sit typing, I am waiting for it to come out. You would not BELIEVE the aroma in my home right now. It smells like Thanksgiving in here.

We served these lovely vegetables and their gravy with a little rice and a green salad.

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