TOAST Magazine

Three Recipes for Root Vegetables

FOOD & DRINK

Our regular cookery writer Orlando Gough creates three recipes for the New Year.

In the spirit of the New Year, I’m thinking ahead, I’m thinking about recipes for a future world. Something made out of raw data and cooked by an online algorithm? 

A blueprint for a plant-based hamburger that you can make in a 3-D printer? Something rustled up with a spherificator and an espuma gun? Something made with acorns, with jellyfish, with locusts? Something with ingredients that have been genetically modified for taste? Chocolate spaghetti, spam and sardine porridge, carpaccio of ginger cake with pesto ice cream, beef lollipop, blah blah blah. 

A baroque Great British Bake Off-style challenge? (‘Bakers, you are charged with making a model of the DNA molecule, using spun sugar for the double helix and filled choux buns of different flavours to represent the four bases. You have twenty minutes. Starting….now.’)

A vegan sausage roll? Whoops, it’s been done. A vegan soufflé? Ah, now there is a challenge……which is unfortunately way beyond my abilities.

Hmmm.

Root vegetables! I know! Let’s eat more root vegetables! 

Actually, you could argue that we already eat enough, in the form of chips and crisps, but I’m on a mission here, and the mission extends beyond the potato. You could also argue, you could very reasonably argue, that the idea is hardly ground-breaking (although it is in a literal sense) but bear with me for the moment.

They are near us, hiding in the earth, or on the supermarket shelves, waiting to be plucked out (rescued – no? ok, not quite) and turned into something delicious. They’re cheap. They’re available, mostly even in deep winter. You don’t have to import them from Thailand. They’re delicious. They’re healthy. They’re versatile.

Roast them! Stove them! (old-school method – an amalgam of frying and steaming.) Purée them! Pickle them! Make them into soup!

Onion tart! Celeriac mash! Parsnips with mushrooms! Turnip soufflé! (No, really. In fact, see below.) Kohlrabi salad! Jerusalem artichoke risotto! Neeps and haggis! Carrot fritters! Beetroot seed cake!

Parsnip hash with walnuts (serves 4)

1 kg parsnips, peeled, and cut into small cubes

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

80g walnut pieces

salt and pepper

generous handful chopped parsley

Steam the parsnips for 10 minutes or so till soft. 

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, add the parsnips and fry for five minutes over a medium heat, tossing them around in the pan so they start to turn golden. 

Add the walnuts and the garlic, and continue to cook for a few minutes, until you can smell the walnuts. 

Season with salt and pepper, and mix in the parsley. Be wildly generous with it – it’s not just a garnish, it’s an ingredient.

Jerusalem artichoke soup (serves 4)

750g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced

1 large onion, chopped

1 stick of celery, chopped

2 bay leaves

a small knob of ginger (about 40g), peeled and chopped

1½ litres stock (chicken or vegetable)

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper

30g hazelnuts

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan, add the chopped onion, the celery, the artichokes, the bay leaves, the ginger and fry gently for 15 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until the artichokes are soft.

Meanwhile roast the hazelnuts in a 180°C oven for about 10 minutes until light brown. Let them cool down, chop them roughly and mix in the parsley.

Remove the bay leaves from the soup, add the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and whizz it up in a blender. If it’s still not quite smooth, press it through a sieve. Serve it garnished with the hazelnut-parsley mixture.

Turnip soufflé (serves 4)

Really. Subtle and surprising and lovely, though far from vegan. The cinnamon is key, even though it is in almost homeopathic quantity.

500g turnips, peeled and cut into cubes

50g butter

50g flour

100ml milk

4 egg yolks

100g parmesan cheese, grated

a generous pinch cayenne pepper

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp chopped parsley

salt and pepper

5 egg whites

Heat the oven to 180°C.

Put the turnips in to a saucepan, barely cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes till soft. 

Drain them, reserving the cooking liquid. Let them dry out for a few minutes, and then purée them.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook over a gentle heat for a minute or two. 

Gradually mix in 150ml of the cooking liquid, beating constantly, and then the milk, to make a smooth sauce. 

Remove from the heat and mix in the egg yolks, the turnip purée, half the grated cheese, the cayenne, the cinnamon and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Butter a soufflé dish (preferably about 18cm diameter), tip in the other half of the grated cheese and turn the dish about so that the sides and base are evenly coated.

Whisk the egg whites till stiff and fold into the turnip mixture. Pour into the soufflé dish, grate a little more cheese on top and bake for 25 minutes.

Weirdly and rather wonderfully, this is very good cold. The taste seems to develop as it cools.

Happy New Year!

Words by Orlando Gough. Images by Kim Lightbody.

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