Root Veggies Are Our Friends

So, we are continuing our week of cleaning out the fridge. We have a somewhat unspoken goal of trying to use up all the produce in our fridge before our Deep Winter CSA pickup this Friday.   Trying to accomplish this has made me realize that we normally have a fridge pretty full of produce… and also has made me realize that I tend to like it that way.  As we get down to the last few root vegetables in our fridge, I hesitate.  “Don’t use the last beet, it might be your last!”  It’s that strange produce-mongering voice that I hear at the back of my mind far more often than is healthy.

Well, I’ve been moving ahead to use lots of produce regardless of my produce mongering.  I have been on a roasted root vegetable kick recently, and last night I made almost a whole meal out of this concept.

Sliced Sweet Potato, Purple Carrot and Daikon Radish laid out on a baking sheet for baking.

I baked a lot of veggies to go with one of my favorite dips: Cilantro Peanut Sauce, from Red Fire Farm’s recipes. I will say that Red Fire Farm has accumulated a very nice collection of recipes on their website.  When looking for the dipping sauce recipe, I came across a lot of great meal ideas for use in the near future.

White Winter Wheat Berries after parboiling.

To go along with my roasted root veggie and dip, I made a wheat berry pilaf consisting of White Winter Wheat Berries, dried mushrooms, dried burdock, garlic, kombu seaweed, and cashews.

Dried Mushrooms, Burdock Root and Kombu. Not a lot. Just enough for flavoring.

For the Wheat berry pilaf: I parboiled the wheat berries, and let them soak for a while.  Then I added more water, the kombu, burdock and crumbled dried mushrooms, brought to a boil and then simmered until the wheat berries were done.  Then I stir-fried minced garlic and cashews in a little bit of canola oil and added it along with a little bit of soy sauce to the wheat berries.  I took out the softened kombu and chopped it up, added it back.  Then I simply boiled the whole mixture of wheat berries, cashews and all until the liquid was reduced to a thin sauce that coated everything very nicely.

Wheat Berry Cashew Pilaf.

The resulting pilaf was very earthy with the burdock and mushroom flavoring.  A good contrast to the more vibrant cilantro and peanut flavors of the root vegetable dip.

Roasted Root Vegetables (Gilfeather Turnip, Daikon Radish, Sweet Potato and Purple Carrot) with Cilantro Peanut Dipping Sauce (served in a little teacup).

The roasted root vegetables were baked as I normally do (laid out separately on a baking sheet, baked for ~30 minutes at 375 degrees F).  I will say that this is one of the most benign ways of eating daikon radish.  Many people find the radish a little overwhelming.  Roasting them like this make them extraordinarily mild and lightly sweet.  It is definitely worth a try if you have struggled with this root veggie.

The Cilantro Peanut Sauce: (from Red Fire Farm’s website) (serves 4 for a meal, serves 8 for an appetizer or side)

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey (or other sweetener)
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs cider or rice vinegar (or other light vinegar)
  • 2 tbs lemon or lime juice
  • 2-4 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbs sesame oil (optional)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional) – or green garlic
  • 1 tbs minced fresh ginger (optional, or a little ginger powder)
  • a little of your favorite spicing agent (cayenne powder, chili flakes)

    Mix everything together. You can mix it in a pouring container or the container you’ll store leftovers in later. Add a little water to get desired consistency. Salt to taste.

    Our assembled meal: Roasted Veggies with Cilantro Peanut Dipping Sauce and Cashew Wheat Berry Pilaf.

    The final meal turned out pretty well.  Very pan-asian, but a nice marrying of hearty heavy winter food and some vibrant flavors.   We managed to use up a lot of vegetables (a giant gilfeather turnip, two diakon radishes, a sweet potato and the last purple carrot).  It also was a vegan meal if we didn’t use honey (maple syrup would be a good vegan replacement for the dip).

    Cleaning out the fridge isn’t so scary.  Also, while searching desperately for our frozen cubes of cilantro for this meal I came across a lot of really great frozen gems in our freezers, like fennel, rhubarb, peas, cauliflower, eggplant, and much more.  This was very reassuring that even with an empty fridge we still have lots of great items to cook with. And, need I mention that our next deep winter CSA pickup is this Friday.  I think we will make it just fine.  🙂

    Local Food Sources for this Meal:

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