Seasonal Roots/Tubers - Shopping & CookingBeets
BeetsCommon beets are all red. There are also golden beets, white beets, and chioggia beets (white and red stripes inside, aka candy cane).
Best roasted, boiled or steamed. (Add a little lemon or vinegar to help beets retain their color.) Beet green tops can be cooked separately for other dishes. Raw beets are also good for juicing.
Look for: Smooth, unblemished, hard, round beets, 3" diameter or smaller. Check that the tops are still attached (so the color doesn't bleed) as well as the taproot on the bottom.
Avoid beets with soft, moist spots or flabby skin, and those that are too large (take forever to cook and can have a woody core).
Storage: Cut off greens before storing. Refrigerate greens in a plastic bag. Refrigerate beets unwashed and unskinned. Cut right before use; skins slip off after cooking.
- Roasted beets, arugula, candied pecans, montbrioc crostini -- Jamie Lauren at Levende Lounge
- Roasted beets w/ blood oranges & baked goat cheese -- Robert Cubberly at Le Petit Robert
- Gold, chiogga & red beet melange w/ endive, baby greens, tarragon, creamy curried miso dressing, pomegranate seeds -- Eric Tucker at Millennium
- Baby arugula salad w/ golden beets & grilled sea scallops – David Vardy at O Chamé
- Red beet & parmesan ravioli w/ asparagus, cumin, pumpkinseeds, morels -- Stuart Brioza at Rubicon
Fresh beets in pics grown by Star Route Farm.
CarrotsAvailable year-round, but peak season is October-April.
Carrots come in all colors: orange, red, white, purple, and in various sizes and shapes. Bagged baby carrots are usually full-size carrots whittled down to their tender centers. True baby carrots are shaped like miniature carrots, and are often served with the greens tip still attached.
Look for: Well-shaped, firm, deeply- and brightly-colored carrots. Avoid those that are cracked, soft, flabby or shriveled. If the tops are attached, bight green tops mean they're freshly picked.
Storage: Remove green tops before storing. Refrigerate in a plastic bag, away from fruit.
Celery Rootaka celeriac.
A relative of celery, celery root is grown specifically for its large root and mild celery flavor.
It's usually chopped and cooked, but can also be grated and eaten raw. Before either method, cut off the top and base, and pare away the thick skin. Submerging it in water will prevent the bare root from oxidizing.
(Check out the SF Chronicle's recent article on this ugly yet tasty root vegetable.)
Look for: Large, relatively smooth, uniform-shaped roots. Avoid overly small ones, since they have thick skins.
Storage: Refrigerate in a loose plastic bag.
Gourmet/Bon Appetit Recipes
- Celery root & green onion pancake -- David Vardy at O Chame
- Chestnut & celery root soup w/ duck prosciutto, gizzard confit & ginger -- Stuart Brioza at Rubicon
- New garlic pudding soufflé w/ wild mushrooms, spinach & celery root -- Jean-Pierre Moulle & Kelsi Kerr at Chez Panisse
- Pan-fried California sea bass w/ celery root purée, brussel sprouts & hazelnuts -- Jennifer Beastie at Bizou
- Butter braised Maine lobster w/ celery root confit & blood orange emulsion -- Robbie Lewis at Jardiniere
ParsnipsVery similar to carrots, only sweeter and ivory-colored.
Peel and use them as you would carrots. They're often cooked (their core is more fibrous than carrots) and puréed, served as a side dish, or added to stews.
Look for: Small- to medium-sized parsnips without pitting. Avoid really thin ones, as they're often stringy.
Storage: Wrap in paper towel and refrigerate in a plastic bag, in the moistest part of the fridge.
- Pistachio crusted corvina (fish) w/ truffled jerusalem artichoke puree & roasted parsnips -- Jamie Lauren at Levende
- Rabbit wrapped in bacon w/ parsnip & marscapone creamed farro, cranberries, black truffle sauce -- Stuart Brioza at Rubicon
- Pan roasted duck leg confit w/ glazed parsnips, quince, baby savoy spinach & toasted hazelnuts -- James Ormbsby at Jack Falstaff
Potatoes, NewImages below.
Freshly-dug, "new" potatoes haven’t reached maturity and therefore have thinner skin and a nicer texture.
Look for: Firm, nice-colored, blemish-free potatoes. Avoid potatoes with wrinkled or wilted skin, green areas, cuts, or soft spots.
Storage: Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space. Light can cause them to green, which has a bitter flavor. Trim off any sprouts before use.
There are many varieties of potatoes at our local markets. Here is a sampling! Images are below the table:
|Rose Finn Apple||X||X||X||X|
|Russian Banana Fingerling||X||X||X|
|ALL BLUE||AMANDINE FINGERLING||CARIBE|
|GERMAN BUTTERBALL||KATAHDIN||MAMA AMARILLA|
|PERUVIAN PURPLE||RED GOLD||RED LASODA|
|RED PEARL||ROSE FINN APPLE||RUSSET|
|RUSSIAN BANANA FINGERLING||SWEDISH PEANUT||WHITE ROSE|
|YELLOW FINN||YUKON GOLD|
Thanks to Small Potatoes and Little Organic Farm for the potato models!
Potatoes, Sweetaka yams (in America).
Very versatile, but most often baked, candied or made into pies. (Boiling causing them to lose a lot of flavor.) You can peel them before or after cooking.
Look for: Firm potatoes with smooth skin and no cracks. Avoid those that are wrinkled, sticky or sprouting.
Storage: Keep in a cool, dark place; do not refrigerate. Use within 1 or 2 weeks, as their sugar content makes them spoil quickly.
RadishesSeveral varieties: Cherry Belle (all red), French Breakfast (oblong w/ white tips), Easter Egg (round, various colors).
Can be eaten raw or cooked: steamed, sauteed, or stir-fried. Peel for milder flavor. Green tops add peppery flavor to salads.
Look for: Fresh firmness, bright color, good shape. Tops should be fresh. Avoid: growths, cracks, cuts, yellowing, softness/mushiness.
Storage: Radishes store better without their tops attached. Refrigerate in a plastic bag.
- Pureed spinach & radish soup w/ anise yogurt & roasted shitake mushrooms -- Adrian Hoffman at One Market
- Armenian cucumber and radish salad with bresaola and pinenut dill pesto -- Loretta Keller at Bizou
- Wild salmon Cozy w/ radishes, red onion, cucumbers, watercress & herb aioli -- Mark Gordon at Rose's Cafe
- Radish ravioli w/ tatsoi & pea tendrils -- Roxanne Klein at Roxanne's
Rutabagasaka Swede turnip
Usually irregular shaped and tan with a purplish band at the crown. Rutabagas are larger than turnips and typically sold without their taproots or tops.
Rutabagas and turnips can be used interchangeably. Peel and roast, boil, sauté, or steam. Mash like potatoes, roast with meats, purée as side dishes, or use in soups.
Look for: Firm rutabagas without major scars or bruises. For the sweetest flavor, choose rutabagas four inches or less in diameter.
Storage: Store in the refrigerator unwashed for 2 weeks or more, or at room temperature for 1 week.