root root root for the home team

Late November has been blessed with much roasting of vegetables and visiting with family–surely two of life’s greatest joys. The day after Thanksgiving, my family (minus the newlyweds) flew to Flagstaff, Arizona, for a long weekend with the Fieldses. The highlight of the trip was certainly our two-day hike in and out of the Grand Canyon, as breathtakingly beautiful as it was physically challenging. The second highlight, though, was preparing dinner for my family of twelve. The following recipe may be daunting in its proportions but rest assured it can easily be adjusted for any size party.

Pictured below is a little winter root vegetable eye candy, taken at a groovy grocery store in Flag called New Frontiers.

a winter stew

Serves 12

3 rutabagas
2 medium russet potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
3 medium red potatoes
3 medium parsnips
4 large carrots
1 celery root
2 large red onions
2 turnips
3 cans (14 oz) of chick peas, drained
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
8 cups vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 425F.

Okay, I’ll be honest. Here’s where it gets time-consuming: CHOP ALL THOSE ROOT VEGETABLES. And the onion. If you can enlist some family members to help, the process goes much faster. And if you can do it in your aunt and uncle’s gorgeous kitchen, then all the better.

What you wish to peel is really a matter of taste. We peeled the carrots, parsnips, celery root and russets, but in theory, any of these could go in the stew with skins left on.

Place all your chopped veggies in a large bowl or two. Be generous while adding your oil and spices. Toss thoroughly (with your hands).

Transfer to a couple large roasting pans. Sprinkle with the chick peas. Bake in oven for 45-50 minutes, or until all the vegetables are of the proper chewiness. Your kitchen will begin to smell magnificently.

Just before your veggies are done roasting, pour the broth into a large (and I mean large) soup pot and bring to a boil.

When the vegetables are done, add carefully to the hot broth. Let simmer for 10 minutes. A little more salt and pepper here couldn’t hurt. This particular vegetable-to-broth ratio yielded a thick, hearty stew–perfect for the hikers on the night before our descent–but if you’re looking for something more soup-like, feel free to add more broth.

a note about roasting beets
plus a stunning salad recipe

If you’ve never roasted a beet, it’s just about the easiest thing in the world. Simply wrap your beets individually in tin foil and bake in a hot oven (375F) for one hour. Unwrap slightly and let cool on the counter. At this point, the skins will peel away easily and you’ll be faced with a glowing garnet orb of delicious. Slice into chunks and chill before tossing with greens, pears, walnuts, parmesan and vinaigrette for a delightful side salad.

I’d like to point out that the crowd ’round this dinner table included one or two notoriously picky eaters, yet everyone gave the stew a stamp of approval. The stew and salad paired nicely with thick slices of bread, bottles of beer and candlelit conversation. The quote of the night must be attributed to cousin Brandon, who dubbed the dish a “hipster stew,” since all of the featured vegetables were oh so underground. A little painfully punny, maybe, but don’t let it deter you from giving the recipe a try!

One Comment Add yours

  1. hbeelen says:

    this looks delicious, but that is an awfully peculiar looking knife you’re using to chop those onions…

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