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How to Cook with Root Veggies

By Brooke Lark
Created January 10, 2017
Get to know your root veggies! Turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas, along with other less-than-loved vegetables are making comeback. Here’s how to cook with them.

You’ve probably seen a variety of root veggies inhabiting a corner of the grocery store produce section. But, have you ever stopped by to actually shop there? Probably not. Root veggies have fallen from most American dinner tables. And, frankly, that’s not such a surprise. Cooking with them is often an unfamiliar task. It can be time consuming, too. After all, there aren’t a lot of “root veggie” convenience foods in the freezer section. Not to mention the specific flavors and taste of rutabagas, parsnips, and beets are often an acquired taste.


With all of that said, don’t write off root veggies just yet! When you know what they are and how to use them, root vegetables like turnips, beets, rutabaga, and parsnips are flavorful, nutritious, and totally delicious. A great way to add some excitement to your menu. To introduce you to a few of our favorites, we’ve prepared a guide that will acquaint you with what each veggie looks like, tastes like, and how to use it in your cooking. Get to know your root veggies, then get ‘em on your plate with our easy, tasty recipes. You’ll be glad you did!


Rutabagas are large, round purple and white root vegetables. They are a cross between a cabbage and a turnip and have a sweet, mild flavor. Slice them thin and serve them raw in salads, or roast, bake, or boil the rutabaga for use in soups or side dishes.


Turnips are smaller in size than rutabagas, and are less sweet. They have a mild flavor and are very versatile in cooking. You can roast, boil, steam, stir-fry, or mash turnips into a variety of recipes to add good flavor, smooth texture, and an abundance of Vitamin C.


Jicama is light brown in color, a rather uninspiring-looking root vegetable, but delicious nonetheless. Once peeled, the inside of the vegetable is white, crispy, and sweet. It’s similar to a water chestunut or daikon radish, although its flavor is more like an apple and a potato mixed together. Jicama is usually served raw and uncooked, and makes a lovely accompaniment to any salad or slaw.


Beets come in a variety of colors, but the red beet is the most common. These root vegetables have a distinctive, earthy flavor that is notably sweet. Add fresh beets to your daily diet by roasting them, steaming them, or boiling them. Your body will thank you for it! Beets have a hearty dose of the antioxidant betalain.


Yams or sweet potatoes are widely used in American cooking, so it’s likely you’ve already got a few favorite yam recipes in your repertoire. The vegetable cooks up sweet and starchy, and can be barbecued, roasted, fried, grilled, and made into dessert.


Parsnips, also called parsley root, look like a cream-colored carrot. The flavor of a parsnip is similar to a carrot, with a gentle flavor and texture. Unlike the carrot, however, parsnips are rarely (if ever) served raw. They can be pureed or roasted and are typically served in stews or as a side dish.