Polenta with Braised Root Vegetables

Start the polenta before you begin the braised vegetables. By the time the polenta is ready, you’ll have a wonderful topping and a comforting winter meal.

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound rutabaga, peeled and cut in small dice
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut in small dice
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled, cored and cut in small dice
  • 1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice or crushed tomatoes
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil a 2-quart baking dish. Combine the polenta, salt and water in the baking dish. Place in the oven on a baking sheet. Bake 50 minutes. Stir in the butter, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the polenta is soft and all of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the cheese, if using. While the polenta is baking, cook the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, rutabaga and parsnip, and then season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and stir together for about a minute until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes with their liquid, a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked down and fragrant. Add lots of freshly ground pepper, taste and adjust salt, and remove from the heat. Serve the polenta with the vegetables spooned on top.


Mirepoix, raw, roasted, or sauteed with butter or olive oil, is the flavor base for a wide variety of dishes such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces.

1 cup diced onions

1/2 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced celeriac

Try to dice vegetables to a uniform size. You can dice into larger pieces for a longer-cooking recipe, smaller for a shorter cooking time. The diced vegetables can be sauteed in olive oil or butter over relatively low heat until starting to brown. A littlle tomato sauce can then be added if desired.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

This recipe for soup from Cucina! Cucina!, printed in Foodday, is well adapted to winter vegetables.  Use mustard greens in place of the spinach and reduce the mustard that is called for.

  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage links
  • ½ c. finely diced onion
  • ½ c. finely diced carrot
  • ¼ c. finely diced leeks
  • ¼ c. finely diced celery or celeriac
  • 1 ½ c. uncooked lentils
  • 4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard (or less)
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 c. finely sliced mixed greens
  • salt and pepper

In a heavy-bottomed 2-3 quart saucepan, heat the butter and oil until the butter is melted.  Add the sausage links and brown evenly on all sides.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until sausages are cooked through.  Remove from pan and allow to cool.  Add the onion, carrot, leeks and celery or celeriac to the remaining butter in pan.  Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender.  Add the lentils and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent lentils from sticking.  Hen broth comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender, 40-45 minutes.  While soup is simmering, cut sausages into ¼ inch slices.  When lentils are tender, add sausage, cream, mustard, vinegar and three quarters of the greens.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Return soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes.  Serve in warm bowls with remaining greens divided among bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Serves 8.

Kohlrabi and Chicken Stew

  • 3-4 lb. Chicken
  • 2 lb. kohlrabi/broccoli stems
  • 3/4 lb. Carrots
  • 4 Tb butter
  • 4 cups sliced onions
  • 1 cup peeled, chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 quart chicken broth or water
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 1/2 small cabbage

Cut chicken into serving pieces. Peel kohlrabis and/or broccoli stems; cut larger ones into 1-inch chunks. Cut cabbage into 1/4-inch strips. Peel carrots and slice diagonally into 1/2-inch thick pieces.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter and sauté the onions, tomatoes, salt and spices for 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add the broth or water and parsley. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the kohlrabis and carrots, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add the cabbage and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes longer or until all the vegetables are completely tender.

Adapted from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash

Garlic Snow Peas with Filberts

  • 1/2 lb. snow peas
  • 2-3 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped filberts
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a heavy frying pan.  Sauté onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.  Add carrots, chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts can be substituted for filberts) and salt.  I tend not to use much salt when I cook, but this is one recipe where I use more than usual.  The effect you are shooting for is for the nuts to take on a salted, roasted taste.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add the snow peas and cook stirring until they take on a dark green color.  This recipe is also great with green beans instead of snow peas.

Garlic Beans with Filberts

  • 1/2 lb. beans, cut to 1-2 inch pieces
  • 2-3 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped filberts
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • salt to taste

Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy frying pan.  Sauté onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.  Add carrots, chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts can be substituted for filberts) and salt.  I tend not to use much salt when I cook, but this is one recipe where I use more than usual.  The effect you are shooting for is for the nuts to take on a salted, roasted taste.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add the beans and cook stirring until they take on a dark green color.  This recipe is also great with snow peas instead of green beans.


Famous Fall Roots Soup

A trio of fall root vegetables — carrots, leeks, and a rutabaga — forms the savory foundation of this soup. Puréed and enriched with crème fraîche, this potage, with its velvety, smooth texture and glorious orange hue, is always a hit — whether it’s a first course or the main attraction.

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2-1/2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (3 to 4 medium leeks)
  • 1-1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium rutabaga (1 to 1-1/2 pounds), peeled and diced
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-1/4 cups crème fraîche
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat butter in a large, heavy pot (with a lid) over medium-high heat. When melted and hot, add leeks, carrots, and rutabaga. Sauté vegetables until softened, for 10 minutes or longer. Add stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, for about 30 minutes.
2. Purée the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, and return soup to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot.) Whisk in 3/4 cup of the crème fraîche. Taste soup and season with salt, as needed. (The soup can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)
3. To serve, ladle soup into shallow soup bowls. Garnish each serving with a generous dollop of the remaining 1/2 cup crème fraîche and a sprinkling of parsley.


• Rutabaga is an often overlooked root vegetable member of the cabbage family. Its pale yellow flesh is slightly sweet. Choose ones with smooth skin and firm flesh that are heavy for their size.
• A sliced yam added to this soup would bring out a sweet touch and play well with the rutabaga.
• This soup can be made ahead and its flavor will only improve.
• When you have time, try roasting the vegetables before cooking them into a soup. Toss the chopped vegetables with a little olive oil, spread them out on a shallow pan and roast at 425 degrees F until they begin to soften and caramelize. Flavors will be more intense.

Makes 8 servings.

Excerpted from Sunday Soup: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering, Easy-to-Make Recipes by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books LLC). Copyright © 2008 by Betty Rosbottom.

East Indian Carrot Soup

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 6 medium carrots, shredded
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. curry powder
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped (divided)
  • 3 cups canned chicken stock
  • ¼ cup lime juice

Saute the onion in the oil until barely turning brown.  Add the carrots, red pepper flakes and curry powder, and saute about 2 minutes.  Add half the cilantro, chicken broth and lime juice.  Simmer until the carrots are tender but still have definite shape.  Tir in the rest of the cilantro just before serving.  More red pepper flakes and salt may be added while cooking.

Serves 4.

From Fooday.

Daniel’s Kim Chee

This is a general kim chee recipe, adaptable to any vegetable, sent to us by our friend Daniel, who did an internship at the Cultured Pickle in the Bay Area. While these instructions are for turnip, cauliflower and carrot, the method works for any combination of vegetable.

-Shredded pickles: this is essentially the same method for sauerkraut but it works really well with root vegetables. Basically you shred the vegetables (with a food processor is easiest) and then salt them. The salt draws moisture out of the veggies creating a brine. Here are step-by-step instructions for this method.

1. Wash the roots and cauliflower and trim off any soft spots

2. Weigh all the veggies and record the weight

3. Calculate anywhere from 1.5 – 2% of the vegetable weight and weigh out that much salt.

4. Shred the root vegetables and cut the cauliflower into small pieces combining all in a giant bowl as you go.

5. Thoroughly mix the shredded roots and cauliflower with the salt (you can add any spices, chopped garlic, shredded ginger, minced anchovies, herbs or citrus zests that you want at this point. Be aware that garlic flavor tends to bloom and get stronger during the pickling process).

6. Let the mixture sit for a couple of hours and see how the liquid is drawn from the vegetables.

7. Pack the vegetables with their liquid into a crock or as many gallon glass jars as it takes to hold them. Try to press out as much air as you can and leave some head room because the fermentation will bubble up.

8. Put some sort of cover on the surface of the veggies and a weight on top of the cover to keep them pressed under their liquid. I like to use the outer leaves from a head of cabbage folded as needed to cover the shredded vegetables with a gallon jug of water as weight.

9. Let the jars ferment for anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. It should be in a corner somewhere with a temp around 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Taste it as it goes. Push it back down every once in a while. Skim off any mold or white yeast blooms that show up on the surface (they are not harmful, don’t worry).

10. When the flavor has gotten sour enough for you, pack the pickles into jars in the fridge to stop them changing further, or move them to a cool root cellar. (If you want the pickles to be stable for months and years at above refrigeration temperature, you can up the salt percentage to near 3%.


-Whole Brined pickles: these are very easy and quick and take less shredding.

1. Wash and trim the vegetables

2. Cut the cauliflower into florets and if the roots are large I would cut them into about two-inch chunks.

3. Make a brine: measure out enough water that you will be able to cover all the prepared vegetables in your crock or gallon jars. Then dissolve in this water 50 percent of its weight in salt. For example, 1 liter of water gets 50 grams of salt, 6 liters gets 300 grams of salt. Also add any flavoring to the brine like flowering dill and smashed heads of garlic. I like to add a bunch of dried chiles. Chile flakes and ground spices are good too. You can also heat the brine to dissolve the salt and add the spices like a tea for more flavor,  just make sure it has cooled completely before the next step.

4. Put all the prepped vegetables in your fermentation container and pour the brine over to cover them completely.

5. Again put some sort of cover with a weight to keep the vegetables from coming to the surface.

6. Let them ferment for at least two weeks. Check them as they go.

7. Refrigerate to stop the process or put in a cool place to slow it down.