As we close out National Sweet Potato Month, it's a great opportunity to branch out and try some lesser-known--but equally delicious--root and tuber vegetables.
The terms, root and tuber refer to different parts of a vegetable. Roots are anchors in the soil that absorb nutrients and water; tubers are underground outgrowths that retain nourishment. Tubers can also sprout a new plant, like the eyes of a potato.
These vegetables are in season during the fall and winter months. Before refrigeration was commonly available, people often stored roots and tubers until spring harvests brought fresh vegetables above ground.
Celery Root – Also known as celeriac, this vegetable reveals a creamy white flesh underneath its rough exterior.
It has an earthy, slightly sweet celery flavor and is enjoyed raw in salads and cooked in soups.
Rutabaga – These round, waxy root vegetables are closely related to turnips, but with a milder, sweeter flavor and creamier texture.
Rutabagas are great addition to mashed potatoes or vegetable soups.
Try: Mashed Potatoes with Rutabagas & Buttermilk
Jerusalem artichoke – This knobby tuber is actually a relative of the sunflower (not artichokes) and is native to America (not Jerusalem).
Artichoke instead refers to its flavor when cooked. When eaten raw, the white flesh is nutty, sweet and crunchy, like chestnuts.
Try: Pan-Fried Jerusalem Artichokes with Sage Butter
Jicama - This tuber looks similar to a turnip or a large radish and is popular in Mexico.
Raw jicama tastes similar to a pear or apple, but the skin is typically peeled before eating. Cooked jicama tastes very mild, similar to a water chestnut.
Try: Spicy Broccoli-Jicama Salad.