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Serving for the Season: Farmer Ken Greene's Roasted Roots

The last of five holiday-oriented recipes from farmers, chefs and food writers.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Chance Foods asked five guests from 2010 to share the recipes they'll be serving to their families over the holidays. This final recipe is an easy, rustic dish that’s ideal for the colder months of the year, as well as for any gathering of friends and family.

Ken Greene, along with his partner Doug Muller, runs the Hudson Valley Seed Library in Ulster County, N.Y. Members of the seed library receive heirloom seed packets of their choice and are encouraged to save and return the plants’ seeds the next year. The organization also creates an annual series of seed packs that feature artwork from area artists. The Horticultural Society of New York has the artwork and vintage seed packs on display through Dec. 23. This past August, Greene appeared on Last Chance Foods to discuss the little-known and widely unappreciated ground cherry.

Greene shared this classic recipe for roasted root vegetables with WNYC.

Roasted Roots: As we get deeper into winter, our meals focus more and more on what’s saved from the garden. There are always some greens to harvest—kale, arugula and the like—but we use those for bright additions rather than main meals. Our favorite winter comfort food is roasted root vegetables. This dish can be as simple as using one or more types of potato, but we like to mix it up and use whatever we can root around for. Our scavenged old fridge that is buried in the ground is filled with the farm’s bounty, including carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, and celeriac; our sweet potatoes store better right in the kitchen. Using a medley of roots adds flavor, color, and interest to the traditional roasted potato dish.

  • 4+ pounds of roots
  • 2-4 large onions or leeks
  • 5-10 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons mixed dried herbs (rosemary, thyme, tarragon)
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon salt
  • Any fresh greens or herbs

Cut the roots and onions/leeks into chunks, not too big, not too small. Try around 1 inch squares (or rounds). I parboil the roots when I’m in a hurry,  but you don't have to. Drain and coat the roots, the onions (or leeks), and the garlic with a mixture of the olive oil, dried herbs, and salt. Place in a casserole and bake at around 400 degrees F for about an hour (but check for doneness after 30 minutes if you’ve parboiled). Stir occasionally to keep roots coated.

To serve: Add salt to taste and sprinkle finely cut greens and fresh herbs on top. This dish is easy to reheat—just stick it back in the oven until piping hot.

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