root vegetables

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

Is it winter or spring?   The wacky weather we have been having says spring, and the snows have melted unusually early this year.  But spring has not sprung.  Not yet.  There are still root vegetables filling the root cellar and produce bins at the stores.  Not even the wild leeks have begun to emerge from the forest floors.  We have been making maple syrup all week, so no, it is not spring.
Roasted chicken makes a festive dish any time of the year.  Root vegetables added to the roasting pan makes a one-dish meal that is hard to beat. My stovetop is engaged with boiling sap for syrup, so a one-dish meal in the oven is good thing.
In this dish I have golden beets, fingerling potatoes, onion, carrots, celery root, and garlic.  The veggies take on the flavor from the chicken juices – a delightful combination.  A fresh cabbage salad would not go amiss here.  Serve with a good red wine and you won’t mind waiting just a bit longer for spring.
Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

Serves 4 to 6
1 whole roasting chicken (3 1/2 to 5 pounds), neck and giblets removed
2 tablespoons canola or extra virgin olive oil 
6 cups peeled and cubed root vegetables (any combination of beets, carrots, celery root, parsnips, rutabagas, salsify, turnips) 
2 cups cubed fingerling potatoes
1 to 2 onions, cut into wedges
1 whole bulb garlic, cloves separated and peeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to brush
3 teaspoons dried sage
1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2.  Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry.  Set in a large roasting pan.  (The pan must be large enough to hold the vegetables in a single layer surrounding the chicken.)  If you like, tie together the legs with cotton string or thread to prevent them from overcooking.  Brush with the oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the sage.
3.  In a large bowl, combine the root vegetables, potatoes, and onions in a large bowl.  Place a few garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of the sage in the chicken.  Add the remaining garlic cloves to the vegetables along with the remaining 1 teaspoon sage.  Add the oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer around the chicken. 
4.  Roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (20 to 25 minutes per pound), until the juices run clear from the chicken, a leg moves easily, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F.  Stir the vegetables once or twice during the roasting to promote even roasting and baste the vegetables with the yummy chicken juices.
5.  Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving platter and keep warm under a tent of foil.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. 
Adapted from Recipes from the Root Cellar.  ©2010 Andrea Chesman.  All rights reserved


Can't Cook Enough Kale!

Can’t Cook Enough Kale!

That was the title of a workshop I recently gave at the Mother Earth News fair in Seven Springs.  I am still catching off from my time there, when I promised to post recipes I prepared at the demo.  At last, I am fulfilling that promise. Below is the stir-fried greens I prepared for that demo.  I am also posting recipes for a salad and for shredded sautéed winter vegetables – two recipes I prepared for a workshop on Cooking Winter Vegetables.

 Kale is still growing.

      I am behind in every aspect of my life – in part because I have been busy trying to put my garden to bed.  Not a minute too soon, because the snow came this weekend.  Putting the vegetable garden to bed was a fairly easy task, because the soil is so lovely and yielding.  I planted a nice big bed of garlic and mulched the salsify, which I won’t harvest until the spring.


  Garden writers can wax poetic about time and worries slipping away in the Zen of gardening.  Not me, I was caught up in a sweaty profane battle against bishop’s weed in my perennial bed.  Bishop’s weed spreads by underground runners, and I suspect in a battle for territory against mint, the bishop’s weed would prevail.  It arrived unannounced and unwanted, probably in a perennial I purchased or was give by a “friend.”  Trying to get rid of it required digging up every square inch of garden and then sifting through the soil to remove even the smallest piece of root that remained.  I have no illusions that I succeeded in eradicating that pest, but I do think I made serious headway.  And along the way, I separated the iris and daylilies, which were in need of attention.

      Quite honestly, I’d rather be cooking.


Sichuan-Style Stir-Fried Chinese Greens

This has a few exotic ingredients, because I wanted to keep this vegetarian and I wanted to make something you might not have already tasted.  The odd ingredients are: Sichuan peppercorns and Chinese black vinegar.  Sichuan peppercorns are actually the berry of the prickly-ash and can be found at Asian groceries, perhaps under the name anise pepper, Chinese pepper, fagara, flower pepper, or sansho.  Chinese black vinegar has a distinctive flavor, closer to balsamic vinegar than to regular rice vinegar.  To make a reasonable substitute for Chinese black vinegar, mix 1 part soy sauce, 1 part Worcestershire sauce, and 1 part rice vinegar.


4 small dried chiles

2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds napa cabbage, bok choy, Chinese broccoli, kale, or other Chinese greens or a mix of greens, trimmed and sliced 1 inch thick, tough stems discarded

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil


Chinese black vinegar

      1.  Chop 1 ½ pounds kale or other greens

      1.  Heat 2 tablespoons in a large wok over high heat.  Add the 4 small chiles, 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, and 2 minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, just until fragrant.  Add the greens and stir-fry for 3 minutes, until the greens are wilted.  Cover and let steam until tender, 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the green and your preferences.

      2.  Add the ½ teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and salt to taste.  Toss to mix.  Drizzle with the vinegar and serve immediately.


From Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. ©2010.  All rights reserved.



Thai Sweet-Spicy Cabbage Salad

Serves 6 to 8

      This cabbage salad uses regular green cabbage, but napa cabbage could be substituted.  The secret ingredient is Thai sweet chili sauce, a condiment found in Asian markets.  It is made of sugar, vinegar, and chiles and makes a wonderful dressing for salads or a dip for spring rolls.  This salad combined with chicken makes a delicious wrap.


1 small head (about 1 1/2 pounds) green cabbage, cored and very finely sliced

2 teaspoons salt

1 carrot, grated

1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce

1/2 cup chopped roasted salted peanuts


      1.  Combine the cabbage and salt in a colander and toss to mix.  Let stand for about an hour to wilt the cabbage.

      2.  Taste the cabbage.  If it is too salty, rinse with cold running water.  Then drain.  Combine the cabbage, carrot, and chili sauce in a large bowl and toss to mix.  Add the peanuts and toss to mix.

      3.  Let stand for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend before serving. 


From Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. ©2010.  All rights reserved.


Sautéed Shredded Root Vegetables

Serves 4 to 6

      This sauté of vegetables takes 10 minutes to cook and looks as beautiful on the plate as it is delicious to eat.  Vary the seasonings if you like, the shredded vegetables are amenable to experimentation.


3 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil

4 cups peeled and shredded mixed root vegetables (beets, carrots, celery root, parsnips, rutabagas, salsify, and /or turnips)

1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg


      1.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the root vegetables, leek, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are limp, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 more minutes.    

      2.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Serve hot. 


From Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. ©2010.  All rights reserved.