by Bridget O’Donnell

Although some people would rather experience hot summer days throughout the year, I genuinely appreciate living in an area with four seasons. This may have made it a little easier to positively reframe the very real goosebumps and recurring thoughts of warmer, more coordinated clothes still neatly packed away in the closet while I worked outside at the weekly CSA vegetable distribution. However, thinking warm thoughts, here’s one of many silver linings to help welcome the change in season for anyone whose hobbies tend to gravitate towards food. Cooler temperatures in the Hudson Valley are renowned for an abundance of apples, Bosc pears, pumpkins and…sheet pans full of roasted root vegetables!

Don’t worry if raw salads aren’t your thing and unwed yourself from any commitment you may have made to blooming onions or loaded baked potatoes. Other vegetables have flavor too. In fact, a number of vegetables naturally caramelize when they’re roasted making them tender and sweet. Keep an open mind. A pan of roasted root vegetables could be the starting point to other, more adventurous “plant-based” combinations and the beginning of a beautiful, healthy relationship.

Taking advantage of the abrupt change in weather, I filled all of the available real estate our oven had to offer with sliced Delicata squash, red beets wrapped in aluminum foil, and a sheet pan of root vegetables. Not bad for time management but as I admired a week’s worth of comforting side dishes I realized that I forgot sweet potato and Brussel sprouts. Thankfully, there will be plenty more chances to vary seasonal ingredients in the following months. With fuel prices continuing to increase this is also a great way to warm up the room and, make the house or apartment smell SO cozy.

Title of Cookbook: Roots:The Complete Guide to the Underground Superfood

Author of Cookbook: Stephanie Pedersen.

What prompted you to check out this cookbook? The crisp but, sudden change to fall weather inspired me to cite this recipe. And, after returning from an international vacation I was looking for recipes big enough to help meal plan for our week back to work.

What did you like about this cookbook? For the last few years my CSA share strongly influenced which root vegetables I roasted. Now that I make this frequently, I don’t follow a recipe but found one of the closest versions in Stephanie Pederssen’s Roots: The Complete Guide to the Underground Superfood.

Pedersen also includes a chapter summarizing the nutritional content and health benefits of root vegetable. It’s kind of cool if you’re consciously looking for nutrient dense foods to help supplement your diet.

What didn’t you like about this cookbook/website?

It’s less than 200 pages.

Favorite recipe (that you tried from the cookbook/website): Roasted Root Vegetables (pg. 136).

Did you alter the recipe or make any substitutions? If so, what were they?

Experience has taught me to scale the recipe down to what one or two people can reasonably consume in a week. For us, that’s one large sheet pan. At times this can be a difficult directive to follow, especially in late fall when root vegetables are plentiful. Generally, I prep 1-3 small to medium sized vegetables or use half a larger vegetable if that’s all that’s available. (I definitely wouldn’t use a pound like Pedersen suggests.)

As something of a minimalist when cooking, I simplify the seasoning using olive oil, salt and pepper. I leave out additional herbs and garlic.

To accommodate various cook times I divide a baking sheet lined with parchment paper using homemade aluminum foil trays. The last 20 minutes, I add a small tray of cubed bell peppers to the oven. The tray of Brussel sprouts come out of the oven once they begin to look browned and the tray with beets stay in until the main dish is done baking.

My basic recipe:

1-3 Potatoes (I highly encourage you to use a mix: New, Russet or purple and 1/2 Sweet.)

1 Onion (your choice)

1 Parsnip

1 Turnip

2-3 Carrots

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

Bell Peppers (roast separately for 20 minutes, then mix into the sheet pan of roasted root vegetables before serving. Roasted peppers add a nice burst of flavor and fall color!)

Beets (I keep these separate so everything doesn’t turn red. Beets also tend to take longer to roast. Note: golden beets stain less and have a more mild flavor but tend to oxidize kind of like bananas if they haven’t been roasted long enough.)

When available, I multitask and roast Delicata squash to serve as a side for another meal. Once the squash is roasted, the skin and seeds can be eaten but feel free to remove both. (Add half a tablespoon of butter or less to each slice of Delicata the last 10 minutes of roasting or before serving.)