Fritters, pancakes, no-churn ice cream! Here's what to do with those root vegetables

If you're tired of eating them roasted, let your imagination take over.

If you're tired of eating them roasted, let your imagination take over

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Root vegetables are mainstays and (perennially!) popular ingredients because they have a long shelf life, are budget friendly, and are very filling. Yet they may still be underused —  they have so much more versatility than you may think.

If you've stocked up on root vegetables but are tired of a classic roast in the oven, then let your imagination take over. Not enough potatoes for gnocchi? Add beets. Want a hearty breakfast? Think carrot pancakes. Craving something sweet? Make sweet potato ice cream. (See below!) You get the idea, right? By utilizing root vegetables in unpredictable ways, you can transform them into something different and delicious for every meal. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

Make fritters

Shred raw root vegetables with a cheese grater, and squeeze out any excess water. Combine 2 cups of grated root vegetables with 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons of flour, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Fry ¼ cup portions in ¼ inch of canola oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Pair the fritters with a chili lime or spicy mayo. 

Make a simple salad

Pick any 4 raw root vegetables that you think would go well together (about ¼ pound each) and shave them into ribbons with a peeler. Toss the vegetables with a honey-citrus dressing or a simple oil-vinegar dressing. Add walnuts or hazelnuts, and feta or goat cheese if you have it. 

Pickle them

A basic pickling recipe for 1 pound of root vegetables is 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of spices. Peppercorn and bay leaves work in most pickles; use whatever vinegar you have in your cupboard and change up the spices accordingly.

Place the raw, cut vegetables and the dry ingredients in a sterilized jar. Boil the liquid ingredients together in a small pot, then pour it carefully into the jar and seal it immediately. Keep it in the fridge or in a cool dry place for at least 3 days before eating. 

Make gnocchi

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are used in gnocchi recipes because they have a lot of starch, which helps to bind the gnocchi dough. If you need to use up another root vegetables or you're running out of potatoes, you can combine ½ pound of any root vegetable of your choice with every 1 pound of potato — use this recipe as a guide.

Make gratin

Slice root vegetables ¼-inch thick. Layer a third of the vegetables in a casserole dish, pour a third amount of bechamel sauce (just to cover evenly) over the vegetables, and repeat with remaining two portions of each. Cover with tin-foil and place in the oven at 375F degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, add some grated cheese (gruyere, cheddar or Parmesan works) and cook uncovered for 15-10 minutes more until golden. 

Make pancakes or waffles

To make pancakes or waffles, work off of this recipe. Before you begin, note that you can feel free to make substitutions; you can replace carrots with your root vegetable of choice, you can use solely all-purpose flour instead of combining it with wheat, and you can leave out the shredded chopped walnuts and unsweetened shredded coconut. 

Make a cake

Making a root vegetable loaf is a go-to because it's a cross between bread and cake — you get the best of both worlds! Using a box grater, grate the raw root vegetable of your choice (sweet potato or beets would work well in place of the classic carrot), and use this recipe.

Make no-churn ice cream

Many root vegetables have a natural sweetness, especially when roasted, that that work well in a recipe lke this one (think: beets, carrots, sweet potato, and ginger). Simply roast and remove the skin of a roasted root vegetable, blend with sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and cinnamon (optional) in a food processor, add whipped heavy cream and freeze! 

Make broth

Everytime you peel a root vegetable, save the scraps. Place them in a ziplock bag and freeze them. When you have enough scraps to make a broth, put them in a large pot and add just enough water to cover them. Add salt and peppercorns, bring the pot to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 2 hours. When it's done, strain the liquid. You can use the broth for soups, sauces, stews, couscous, stir fry, polenta, curry, dumplings, stuffings and more! 

Make soup

Use that broth to make a flavourful root vegetable soup. Toss 1-2 pounds of root vegetables with oil, salt and pepper, and thyme and rosemary if you've got them, then roast the vegetables in the oven at 425F degrees for 40 minutes to 1 hour. Add the roasted vegetables to 4-6 cups of hot broth and puree to your desired consistency (add in less broth at first, then continue adding). Finish with a splash of cream, if you desire. 

Ariel Lefkowitz is a Canadian/American food writer, chef, and video journalist based in Montreal, Que. She has been a trained chef for over a decade. Ariel believes that cooking is a critical part of self-care that should be joyful, sustainable and accessible. She is currently developing a comedic cooking show, titled 'Cooking in the Cut'. Follow her at @cookinginthecut.

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