Savage recipes for roots

Roasted Root Medley on Black Rice with Chilli Vinaigrette and Lime Yogurt Sauce
Rutabaga or Turnip and Apple Gratin
Gypsy Stew with Roasted Root Vegetables, Peppers, Black Beans and Smoked Paprika

Roasted roots with black rice, chilli vinaigrette and lime yogurt sauce. Leslie Savage photo

Roasted root medley on black rice with Chilli Vinaigrette and Lime Yogurt Sauce
For 4 people as a main dish
Amazing delicious. The medley of roasted roots is colourful and satisfying, and with the nutty black rice, you won’t miss meat at all. With a salad and light dessert, this makes a lovely multi-course dinner. We ate it alone for supper, with a glass of cabarnet sauvignon; a dark ale would also work. It’s a perfect winter dish—hearty and aromatic and full of goodness.

The black rice has to be soaked all day. Admittedly it’s not fast—after soaking the rice, the prep and cook time is about an hour and a half. But black rice is full of flavour and nutrients that polished white rice can’t provide—it’s really worth the trouble and the expense. The prep could be done ahead, although the vegetables are at their best within an hour of roasting.

Black Rice
From Crescendo. This Italian rice is more like wild rice, which isn’t technically a rice at all but a grain. Alternatively, use one of the Lundberg rice mixtures, or wild rice, available now in bulk from Coopers.

Soak 1 cup black rice for 8 hours in 4 cups of hot water. Drain well and rinse.
Boil 4 cups water in a good sized saucepan with a heavy bottom. Add 1 tsp salt. Add the rice and turn down the heat. Simmer, covered, for 40-50 minutes. Check every so often to make sure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan, and add more hot water if it needs it. (This depends on the heat source—you want the lowest setting possible that keeps the water at a simmer.) While the rice is cooking, you will be roasting the vegetables.

Once the rice is edible but not mushy, drain into a sieve and rinse well in hot water to get rid of the extra liquid, which will be dark brown and thick. Put into a covered heatproof bowl or casserole and keep warm either in the oven or on a hotplate.

Roast vegetables
4 fat parsnips or 8 small ones
1 large beet
2 small or 1 large sweet potato
1 large onion
6 small multicoloured potatoes: 2 white, 2 purple, 2 red
4 stout carrots
1 small rutabaga
Peel and cut the vegetables into pieces. They won’t be square, and the size is optional, but in order that they cook more or less uniformly, they should be thumb-sized (from knuckle to tip.)
Mix with
1 tbsp of good olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
a little salt and pepper
a clove of mashed or minced garlic
½ tsp cumin powder.

Roast the roots for 30-40 minutes in an oven preheated to 400F, turning once or twice. When done, they should be browning and tender but not mushy. The beet and carrot can be al dente.

While the veg roast, make two sauces:  a chilli vinaigrette, and a lime yogurt sauce.

Chilli Vinaigrette
½ cup good olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp chilli paste (medium hot, Indian or Thai.)
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp honey
1 tsp quality sea salt
1 tsp fresh chopped mint leaves
grating of black pepper

Lime Yogurt Sauce
1 cup Olympic Plain 5% BF yogurt at room temperature
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 extra large ripe or 3 small limes (1/4 cup)
½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
½ tsp red salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
When the vegetables are cooked, pour the Chilli Vinaigrette over them. Arrange the rice in a ring on a warm platter. Put the roasted root vegetables with the vinaigrette in the centre, and scatter on top 3 fresh green onions, sliced diagonally into ¼ inch pieces. Add a few mint leaves if you have some left over. Pass the yogurt sauce for people to serve themselves.

Turnip/rutabaga and apple gratin
I have suffered a lifelong confusion about turnip. I don’t recall ever having eaten one until I left home. My mother, possibly having lived on turnips during the depression, avoided them ever after. Now I realize that what I always thought was turnip is rutabaga. The flesh of a rutabaga is pale yellow; a turnip is usually white. However, with over 300 varieties of rutabaga and turnip grown in Europe over the past 2000 years, and names including Swede, nepe, yellow turnip, white turnip, salad turnip, napus, rapa—who can be surprised at some confusion?

This recipe seems to produce a totally different vegetable from boiled turnip: smooth but not mushy, and tasting just of itself. We ate it with a little beef and some fried onion and were surprised at how good it is—fresh and a little peppery. It would be lovely with a pork chop or slice of ham, or with a poached egg and a slice of ripe tomato.

Preheat the oven to 375F. You need to start this at least an hour before you plan to eat. However, leftovers reheat well in the micro and it’s just as good, or almost, on day two.

1 small fresh rutabaga, no larger than a softball, peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes; or a small turnip the size of a tennis ball.
1 apple, peeled, cored and cubed
2 cups water
1 cup cream
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. red Hawaiian salt
½ cup panko breadcrumbs

Put the diced rutabaga or turnip and apple into a saucepan with the water and boil for 20 minutes or until the turnip bites are edible but before they turn to mush. The apple will more or less disappear. Drain.

Butter a small open casserole dish big enough to hold the lot. Put in the turnip and apple. Add the cream and salt and pepper. Stir a little. Top with the bread crumbs and bake in a 375F oven for 30-40 minutes, or until well browned on top.

Gypsy Stew with Roasted Root Vegetables, Peppers, Black Beans and Smoked Paprika

Gypsy Stew is terrific on its own or as a companion piece. Leslie Savage photo

This is good on its own with crusty bread and a cold beer. The beans provide protein. A simple salad of greens tossed with yogurt dressing would be nice with it, or a few slices of steak and red wine. It would be a great ski lunch, perhaps with a sausage. The paprika adds a smoky richness that complements the faint sweetness of the roots.

Cook time 1 hour, prep time 15 minutes
Preheat oven to 400 F
Mix together in a large bowl
3 cups mixed root vegetables: 1 large yam, 4-5 very small white or yellow potatoes, 2 parsnips, ½ cup rutabaga, ½ cup orange carrot  Peel and dice into ¾ inch pieces.
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 large or 4 tiny cloves of garlic
1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped coarsely (1 inch pieces)
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tsp Maletti balsamic vinegar (Crescendo)
½ tsp quality salt
1 tsp smoked paprika La Chinata “Sweet” (Coopers)
Roast in a pan with short sides for 20 minutes. Turn and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes.

Roots make a nutritious alternative to plain white stuff (rice, pasta, spud) on the plate and the palate. Leslie Savage photo

While these roast, puree in a blender
15 oz tinned tomatoes
½ cup chopped parsley
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp Maletti balsamic vinegar
juice of ½ a lemon
zest of ¼ lemon—about ¼ tsp

Put into a casserole dish
the blended tomato purée mixture
the roasted root vegetables
1 cup black beans, either soaked and cooked until done or tinned. If tinned, wash well in a sieve under the tap, then soak for 10 minutes in a bowl of cold water to remove excess salt and preservative
½ cup mixed olives.
Mix these gently, and turn the oven down to 350F. Heat the casserole for 20 minutes.

Serve with a little plain yogurt on top.