The Winter Crop: Hearty Root Vegetables

Emily Duff

Emily Duff › Emily Duff is a NYC Chef, wife and mum. She has been cooking in NYC since 1988 ...


Root vegetables are a staple cellar crop for the winter. Full of big flavor and hearty texture, these meaty vegetables are perfectly suited for seeing us through the cold weather.

In her mission to “eat within the parameters” of her climate, Emily Duff embraces root vegetables for her winter table. She shares some terrific tips and recipes to get the most out of the abundant beets, turnips, sweet potatoes and radishes available at the farmers’ market.

I have a pretty hard crush on farmers. Old, young, short, tall, hairy, bald, gracious and ornery. I love them all. I love them so much, in fact, that I find myself stalking greenmarkets year-round just to get a little taste of what these geniuses have been up to. In the winter months the pickings can be slim and some of my my most coveted growers take time off from the market, their absence making my heart beat a little faster when I think about how they will return with the first asparagus in the spring. But for now, in the darkest, coldest months of winter here in NYC I rely and appreciate on those farmers who babysit their greenhouses and who also bring us those delicious, heavy to carry, winter root vegetables from their cellars that sustain us through the lean times.

I do my level best to “put up” (fermenting, freezing and dehydrating) as many popular summer vegetables as I can during harvest time. It’s such a luxury to be able to reach into the freezer in January and pull out Basil puree for fresh pesto, or frozen zucchini and sweet summer corn for succotash. My husband and I make gallons of sauerkraut to ensure that we will have enough of those enzyme and probiotic rich foods to get us through flu season without illness. Of course I could go to the supermarket or the health food store and buy whatever organic vegetables I want, year round. These days we have that convenience but we pay dearly for it on many levels. California has apparently been going thru a chilly winter and I noticed that at our local health food store, the price of broccoli was $7 per bunch and cauliflower, $8. I have been told that these prices will be coming down soon but it really made me think about the extravagance of abundance and how we have been spoiled for choice since most people unfortunately do not rely on their local farmer. It also got me to thinking about one of the principles of the macrobiotic diet that always made great sense to me: eat within the parameters of your climate and your body will always know how to “act.” It will also know how to heal, protect, and defend the healthy homeostatic environment that we hope to create through proper nutrition and good, clean, joyful living. In other words, eat what the earth gives you at the proper time…which leads me right back to my roots.

Rough, ugly, gnarled and blemished (like my farmers), roots are some of the sweetest, creamiest, delicious vegetables you will ever know (again, like my good farmers). You can poach them, puree them, mash, braise, roast and even eat some raw making them versatile, friendly and forgiving. So why do so many people turn their noses up at them? Intimidation? Perhaps. My best guess is that folks just don’t know how to approach them (beyond Thanksgiving dinner) or they just don’t go looking for them at the winter greenmarkets. They are all shopping at whole paycheck (whole foods) or waiting for asparagus in the spring!

Click here to read the rest of the article and get some great root vegetable recipes over at Family 2 Table!

This article originally appeared on It is partially posted here with permission from the author.

Do you love the root vegetables? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?

Photo Credit: Emily Duff