So good, you’re going to need the biggest spoon you have!
Today’s food post is going to be all about root vegetables, the too often overlooked and underrated vegetable group. They may not be as glamorous as the currently popular avocado or super healthy kale, but they have a whole host of benefits and taste delicious when properly prepared. Root vegetables are in season almost the whole year, grow practically everywhere around the world and most of them don’t require any kind of fancy soil, which makes them the most sustainable vegetables out there. Since they grow underground, they’re less affected by the weather, although they are prone to certain plant diseases and insects.
Additionally, root vegetables are healthy, nutritionally dense and low in calories. They’re quite cheap in most countries, which is perfect if you’re cooking on a budget. It’s also why root vegetables are fairly underrated, because they used to be considered as poor man’s food. Although the whole world loves onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes, and turnips and beetroots are quite popular in many countries, most root vegetables have a rather strong, distinct earthy taste that not everyone likes. I know I used to hate beets and kohlrabi as a kid and I still don’t like parsnips.
However, I’ve come to absolutely love root celery, beets and turnips in all sorts of foods, and I’ve realised it’s just a matter of proper preparation and pairing with other flavours. So, today I’m sharing a very autumnish, creamy and earthy root vegetable risotto recipe that will hopefully make you reconsider your position on root vegetables if you’re not already a fan.
But first, what exactly counts as a root vegetable? Basically anything that grows fat underground, although some of them are not “true” roots. Carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, kohlrabi, root celery, onions, shallots, parsnips, garlic, beets, horseradish, radishes, black radishes, fennel, potatoes… the list goes on. A lot of spices are also actually roots: turmeric, ginger, ginseng, parsley roots etc.
So, I figured why not use a lot of different root vegetables and create a risotto? Most root vegetables (except beets, horseradish and ginger) go great with Parmesan, so I used that too and it really brings the risotto together when it melts into the rice. This time I actually used a packaged mix of 3 grains (rice, spelt and barley) instead of just rice, but white or wild rice or even just barley would work just as well.
Root vegetable risotto recipe
- 1 small turnip
- 1 yellow kohlrabi (the one that grows underground)
- 1 large white onion (you can also use yellow onions of course)
- 4 medium sized carrots
- 1 root celery
- 1 small leek
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 200 g (2.2 cups) of grated Parmesan cheese
- 600 g (3 cups) of rice or a rice grain mix (I used a rice, spelt and barley packaged mix)
- 2-4 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of celery leaves or parsley
- 1.5 tablespoons of cumin seeds
- 0.5 tablespoon of nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika powder
- cayenne pepper to taste
- vegetable soup stock or water
Prep time: about 30 minutes
Cooking time: about 1.5 hour
Peel and chop the root vegetables. This takes a while for this quantity, so maybe get someone to help you to make it go faster.
Put all the vegetables in a large pot with the butter and olive oil. Roast and stir them until they start to get tender, then add some water and all the spices. Simmer the vegetables in enough water that they won’t burn at the bottom, but don’t submerge them.
Once the vegetables are tender, add the rice. Stir and add enough water (or soup stock) that everything is nicely covered in it, then let it boil away for a while (check the instructions on the rice box to give you a feel for how long it will take for the rice to cook). Keep adding water as the rice soaks it up, but take care not to make a soup out of your risotto. Continue stirring and adding water until the rice softens. Your root vegetable risotto is done when both the vegetables and the rice are nice and soft.
Meanwhile, grate the Parmesan and stir it into the risotto when it’s done. Leave it to sit for about 10 minutes for the rice to soak up any remaining water and the Parmesan to melt, then serve and enjoy!
This recipe feeds about 6 hungry people and you can of course freeze any remaining leftovers. Since it’s all about root vegetables, you could also add or substitute other kinds of root vegetables, although I’d recommend avoiding beets, horseradish and ginger here because of the Parmesan and turmeric. I think sweet potatoes, shallots, parsnips and possibly even fennel could work well with this, while potatoes have no place in a risotto. I just used what I had at home, so feel free to improvise as always. While you’re at it, you can also make soup stock from all your peels and vegetable scraps (see how here).
Also, I like to use a lot of butter in my risottos and vegetable soups because I love butter and the creaminess it produces, but feel free to reduce the amount for a less fatty version. The same goes for cheese, although my personal view is that life is too short to not eat a lot of cheese. 🙂 You could also skip the sweet paprika and turmeric, if you would like a more natural, earthy flavour just from the cumin and the root vegetables, although I like the whole flavour combination.
So, what do you think about my root vegetable risotto? Do you like root vegetables and would you try this? What’s your favourite one or your favourite dish made of root vegetables? Let me know in the comments below.
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