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Andrew Coppolino photo

Andrew Coppolino photo

La Yapa — Root vegetables

By Andrew Coppolino

The summer months are behind us, but that doesn’t mean our Kitchener Market is closed. Many of the great vendors who were outside along the Eby Street entrance have now moved inside.

And what’s best about this time of the year? Root crops like parsnips, celeriac, beets, carrots, and even onions as well as greens like kale can shine, even though they are often relegated to the role of side dish. That’s a shame.

So what I suggest is visiting the Kitchener Market and talking to a few vendors about their products. Many fall veg will still be coming out of the fields for the next little while.

Take advantage of that and plan out a mini tasting menu of root veg for a meal on a cool, fall weekend evening.

Your cooking method is key as well: with this product, boiling doesn’t really do the trick. Get the oven up to 350-degrees or so, get your black cast iron pan out, get yourself some good olive oil, and roast away.

Coat the various roots in that olive oil, sprinkle generously with sea salt, fresh-cracked pepper and maybe a few herbs if you have them on hand. Toss them in the oven and sit back and wait for the aromas to fill your kitchen.

Roast them for about an hour, but don’t cook them too far: just tender enough so a sharp knife barely slips in. Many root vegetables get very sweet as they roast. Carrots, for instance, can be as much as five percent sugar, and in a hot oven those sugars caramelize and turn into something close to candy.

Speaking of candy, candy cane beets are beautiful to look at and their sugar levels mean they roast beautifully as well.

Clean up a couple of celeriacs, chop them into small chunks, boil them, season them, and make them into an interesting puree.

Give root vegetables a chance to be the star of your table with just olive oil, salt and pepper, and a good old roasting. You might just be surprised.

• • •

Andrew Coppolino is a Kitchener-based food writer and broadcaster.
Visit him at waterlooregioneats.com.

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