Those cold, cold winter days are often filled with simmering soups and pots of meaty Bolognese on the stove. And while those are certainly excellent ways to use winter vegetables and make the most of a snow-capped day, there’s another rather unsung method of cooking those knobby, tough vegetables: roasting.
“Cooking for Good Times,” a cookbook featuring simple yet delicious recipes by Chicago chef Paul Kahan, has a very good guide for prepping, roasting, and marinating root vegetables, which can be found below. Roasting helps bring out the sweet flavors of root vegetables, caramelizing and charring them in the process, so they boast a tenderness and sugary bite not often found when steamed or sautéed.
Cooking for Good Times: Super Delicious, Super Simple, $20.99 on Amazon
Paul recommends that the vegetables—ranging from beets to radishes and turnips—should be chopped into bite-sized chunks, thrown into a hot overproof pan shimmering with oil, and roasted until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. After the vegetables come out of the oven, they can be tossed with Paul’s herby, oil mixture peppered with vinegar and chile flakes.
Related Reading: How to Sneak Vegetables Into Your Super Bowl Party Menu
Once you’ve got the process down, just about anything can be roasted. So take on Paul’s recipe for roasted and marinated beets with burrata, charred kale, and hazelnut vinaigrette. This meatless standalone is an exciting, salad-like dish that can be served as a side or as a main. The kale is marinated with a mix of cheese, garlic, honey, chile flakes, and lemon zest before it’s charred, tossed with a hazelnut- and herb-studded vinaigrette, and slung with a heaping of crisped-up purple beets. The entire thing is rounded out with a gooey, salty round of burrata, leaking with olive oil and flaky sea salt. It’s Meatless Monday done right.
Reprinted with permission from Cooking for Good Times by Paul Kahan, copyright (c) 2019. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Prep, Roast, and Marinate Root Vegetables
This technique is perfect when you’re cooking for friends and family because it takes way less time than roasting the vegetables whole—thirty to forty minutes tops—and they can be roasted ahead, which just means they spend more time hanging out in their tasty marinade in the fridge. Then they’re ready to be tossed back in the pan to be crisped up again—or not. They’re delicious at room temperature, or even served cold. It’s the kind of thing you want to have in your back pocket.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Depending on the size and type of the root, peel it or not. Peel the dirty, gnarly beets. Sweet potato skins soften up when roasting, so leave those on. For thinner-skinned turnips, a good scrubbing will do.
Cut the roots into chunks; I like them about 1 inch thick and 2 inches long. Cut the round roots through the equator and chunk them up from there. For sweet potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, then again lengthwise, and then into 2-inch pieces. If you can find baby sweet potatoes, just cut those in half. There’s no wrong way to do this; just keep all of your vegetables similar in size and shape so they cook evenly.
Preheat an ovenproof sauté pan large enough to hold the root vegetables in one layer over medium-high heat. Add the rice bran, grapeseed, or olive oil and continue heating until the oil shimmers and is thinking about smoking. Carefully add the roots and let them caramelize on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Check to make sure they’re not burning—lower the heat if they’re scorching in some spots. Give the roots a toss in the pan (tongs work, too) and season with the salt, sugar, and pepper. Add the thyme and rosemary and transfer the pan to the oven. Cook until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender. Start checking with the tip of a sharp knife after 6 minutes and continue to check every 5 minutes. They’re done when they’re easily pierced all the way through. The beets will cook in about 30 minutes, the turnips in just 10 minutes or less, and the sweet potatoes in 20 minutes. This will depend on the age, variety, and cut of the vegetable, so use your senses (including common sense) and check often.
Emile Henry Small Rectangular Baker, $39.99 on Amazon
Spoon the roasted vegetables into a large bowl. Discard the herb stems. Add the orange juice or vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and chile flakes. Toss until well coated.
You can serve at this point, or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Roasted and Marinated Beets with Burrata, Charred Kale, and Hazelnut Vinaigrette Recipe
This is a really, really exceptional dish that always blows people’s minds. It speaks exactly to that incredible thing that happens after you’ve marinated root vegetables and then charred them, and this time we’re adding some Tuscan kale to the marinade and charring it in the cast-iron skillet along with the roots. Then, because I’m a nut-vinaigrette freak, everything gets tossed in a hazelnut vinaigrette. Nut oils have that same combination of earthy and sweet as root vegetables, which makes them the dream team, and then the oil has all that extra fat and richness that’s just delicious.
I top this off with burrata, which might seem like a cop-out because adding burrata to things is like adding caviar—it’s cheating a little bit—but the creaminess against the roasted veg is just out of this world. And it doesn’t necessarily need the ooze factor, so you could use fresh mozzarella instead. Could you just add the cheese to the roasted roots along with some marinated kale? Yeah. Would it be unique? Yeah. But the whole extra step of searing the beets and kale and pouring them right from the pan onto a platter? Next level. If you’ve already roasted and marinated the beets, you could marinate the kale on its own, then sear everything together.
Roasted and Marinated Beets with Burrata, Charred Kale, and Hazelnut Vinaigrette
- Marinated Kale: 1⁄4 cup grated Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1⁄2 teaspoon honey
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch black Tuscan kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
- Hazelnut Vinaigrette: 1⁄4 heaping cup hazelnuts, toasted in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and then finely ground
- 3 tablespoons hazelnut oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot
- 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
- 1⁄2 teaspoon honey
- 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cranks black pepper
- Roasted and marinated beets
- 2 balls burrata or fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into rough chunks
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
- Marinate the kale in a large bowl, combine the cheese, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, honey, salt, chile flakes, and pepper. Add the kale and toss to combine—really get in there and work the kale with your hands; this isn’t a gentle massage. Set the kale aside to marinate at room temperature for 2 hours or in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, you could toss the kale in with the just-roasted, marinating beets along with the cheese, olive oil, et al., and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 2 hours or in the fridge overnight. They’ll marinate just the same.
- Make the vinaigrette: Combine the hazelnuts, hazelnut oil, vinegar, shallot, thyme, honey, salt, and pepper in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake it until the dressing comes together. Set aside until ready to serve or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Char the kale and beets: Preheat a large cast-iron pan over high heat for 5 minutes. When the pan looks very hot (you see little wisps of smoke), add the marinated beets and char on one side for 1 minute, just long enough to get some char. Remove the beets from the pan and add the kale, again charring for 1 minute. You are looking to just heat the kale, not fully cook it. You also could do this over the high heat of a grill. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Put it together and serve: Spread the cheese over a large platter. Season it a bit with salt and pepper. Scatter the charred kale and beets over the cheese, douse with the hazelnut vinaigrette, and finish with the chopped hazelnuts
Header image courtesy of Peden + Munk.