Out of The Ground and Onto Your Plate

Root vegetables, frequently used in stews, soups and casseroles, are a staple throughout autumn and winter. With a higher starch content than other vegetables, they act as a thickener, providing a hearty texture along with important vitamins and minerals. This recipe for pureed vegetables offers a sweet and colorful alternative to traditional mashed potatoes.

Turnips are relatively unknown to many Americans. They have a subtle, slightly sweet flavor and a crisp texture. Mostly white, except for a reddish-purple top, turnips are an excellent source of vitamin C. Additionally, turnips are a source of indoles and sulforophane – two phytochemicals that may offer cancer protection. Rutabagas, also included in the recipe, are closely related to turnips but have a mostly yellow skin.

Of the four vegetables featured this week, carrots are both the best known and the most frequently consumed. Their bright orange skin is a visible sign of the beta-carotene inside. Most commonly associated with eye health, the antioxidant beta-carotene is also essential for healthy skin and proper immune function. This week’s recipe also uses parsnips, which look like a paler version of carrots. Though they don’t provide beta-carotene, they do offer vitamin C, fiber and potassium.

When mashed, the parsnips and turnips yield a pale yellow puree. This is off-set by the warmer orange-toned coupling of the carrots and rutabagas. Served layered in a casserole dish, the two-toned puree is elegant and unexpected.

Pureed Root Vegetables

– Makes 12 servings (1/2 cup each).

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/3 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 6 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound young turnips, topped, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 can (14 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt or low-fat sour cream

Pair the parsnips and turnips together and the rutabaga and carrots together and add to two pots of boiling water. When the water reaches a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium and cook, uncovered, until tender, 15 to 30 minutes. Check tenderness periodically with a sharp knife to prevent over-cooking.

Drain the water, keeping the two pots of vegetables separate. Place each vegetable pairing in a food processor and blend, adding a total of 1/2 cup chicken broth while pulsing. Stop once the mixture develops a chunky texture or continue blending if a smoother texture is desired. Resume mixing while adding the yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside until each vegetable pairing has been pureed.

In a glass or ceramic rectangular casserole dish, arrange the pureed vegetables in two-inch strips lengthwise, alternating orange and yellow purees. Sprinkle with paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Sprinkle the top with whole-wheat breadcrumbs. Place under oven broiler for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 111 calories, <1 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 25 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 249 mg sodium.

The Author:

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)  www.aicr.org

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