Guide to Winter Root Vegetables

Charlene introduced some winter root vegetables to the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors for this meet. We often leave out vegetables that we are unfamiliar with when we do our groceries shopping. A session like this will help us to learn more about some of this winter root vegetables and hopefully we’ll try them in our next groceries shopping trip.


For this session, Charlene picked four winter root vegetables, i.e. Rutabaga or Swede, Turnip, Celery Root or Celeriac and Parsnips. Can you tell which is which from the above picture?


June, Christina and Chris Morris prepared and roasted the above winter root vegetables for everyone to try.


Here is what Charlene shared with us.

The first winter root vegetable introduced here is Rutabaga. It is also known as Swede or Yellow Turnip. Rutabagas are nutty, sweet and slightly peppery. They are delicious mashed with potatoes, cubed and roasted or boiled. When buying rutabagas, choose the smaller ones and they are less woody. The skin of rutabaga is quite tough to peel.

The second winter root vegetable is Turnip. The larger the turnip, the tougher and more strongly flavoured they become. Always choose the smallest turnips you can find at the grocer’s. Turnips can be creamed or made into an au gratin dish. It can be cubed in stews, glazed with carrots, or roasted but do no overcook them. Some cooks like to grate a turnip into their soups as a secret ingredient to give extra dept of flavour to the soup.


The third winter root vegetable is celery root or Celeriac. This seemed to be the best favoured winter root vegetable among all the fours. It has a mild celery flavour to it. Celery root is the ugly stepdaughter of the vegetable world as it is rough and knobbly. It’s mild and aromatic flavour is delicious cooked or eaten raw. It is often cut into shoestrings and made into a salad with mayonnaise and mustard, remoulade. To prepare celery root, cut off the top and bottom of the root. Place a flat side on a cutting board and remove the tough peel in lengthwise strips.


The last winter root vegetable introduced here is parsnips. This is my favourite. Parsnips resemble creamy-coloured carrots. They are sweet and complex. Their delightful flavour can be showcased on its own, whether roasted, in a creamy soup, or boiled and pureed to serve as a lush accompaniment to meats. Avoid gargantuan parsnips, as they tend to be woody in the middle.

Winter-Root-Vegetables-1-300x200Charlene started off the kitchen by demonstrating some safe cutting techniques to the seniors. For one, always cut a round vegetable into half to create a flat surface to work on. This will prevent the vegetable from rolling while cutting. Place your palm on top of the knife as demonstrated.
Winter-Root-Vegetables-2-300x200To cut vegetables into cube, always cut into strip first, and then cut the strips into dices. Notice how she curled up her knuckles to prevent cutting into her fingers.Charlene also demonstrated how to chop onion by leaving the root intact like what Colleen did in this post.
Winter-Root-Vegetables-3-300x200June also shared some tips on cutting techniques. Her tips were:place a wet towel under the cutting board to prevent it from moving.

  • for the first cut of a very tough root vegetables or squashes, place a towel over the knife before you exert the knife to cut the vegetables.
Winter-Root-Vegetables-4-300x200After all the hard work of peeling and cutting the vegetables, June, Christina and Chris Morris dried the cubed vegetables to prepare them for roasting.
Winter-Root-Vegetables-7-300x200Season the vegetables with olive oil, salt an pepper. Roast the vegetables in a foiled covered roasting pan at 425F for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soften. The roasting time depends on the size of the vegetables.

Charlene, June, Christina and Chris Morris, thank you for sharing and preparing the winter root vegetables.

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  1. Marike

    That’s a great post! After reading this, I want to go try using these vegetables now!

  2. kaylee

    turnips are great. they remind me of potatoes.

  3. happydiner

    “Can you tell which is which from the above picture?”

    yes iniminiminormo :p

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