The succulent aroma of roasting root vegetables is so enticing that it may have you wanting to take them out of the oven too soon. But the key to this recipe is a long roasting process that leaves the veggies both caramelized and meltingly tender. A fine antidote to the bleak end-of-January weather here in Paris in which the sky seems to weep with longing for spring.
Légumes d’hiver rôtis / Roasted winter vegetables
This is a versatile dish that can combine whatever vegetables you may have on hand at the moment. In the version pictured above, carrots, parsnips, red onion and potato make a succulent mix. Another combination might be celeriac, finocchio, garlic and pumpkin. Preparation is ultrasimple — pare the veggies, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary or thyme, grind on some black pepper, and prepare for pleasure.
Root vegetables are among the oldest foods consumed by humanity. Tens of thousands of years ago, our forebears in Africa used digging sticks to get them out of the ground. Full of healthy vitamins and minerals, and packed with slow-burning energy power, they have been bred over the centuries to take on the shapes and colors we recognize now. But what goes around comes around. Wild carrots, for example, came in tones of white and purple before being bred to become the familiar orange of today. But now, at my local farmers’ market, new varieties in purple and yellow are being sold — for higher prices than orange — as the trend in ‘heritage’ vegetables gathers steam.
When not in the kitchen, I’m working on a project about the deep past of humanity — a time when there were no ovens and cooking was done over an open fire. It’s lovely to imagine our early ancestors foraging for early versions of the vegetables in this dish and roasting them however they could to come up with a similar creation — guaranteed to take the chill off a winter’s day and elicit murmurs of satisfaction when served. Happy cooking!