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How to Cook with Turnips, Beets, Parsnips and More

By Brooke Lark
Created January 10, 2017
Get to know your root veggies! Turnips, parsnips and rutabagas, along with other "underground" vegetables, are making a 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? 

Root veggies have fallen from most American dinner tables. And, frankly, that’s not 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. And the specific flavors of rutabagas, parsnips and beets are often, well, an acquired taste.

Root Veggies

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 are flavorful, nutritious and totally delicious. They're a great way to add some excitement to your menu. 

To introduce you to a few of my favorites, I’ve prepared a guide that will acquaint you with what each veggie looks and tastes like and how to use them in your cooking. 

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. It's a rather uninspiring-looking root vegetable but delicious, nonetheless. The inside of the vegetable is white, crispy and sweet. The texture is similar to a water chestnut or daikon radish, but the flavor is more like an apple and a potato mixed together. Jicama is peeled and usually served raw and uncooked, making it a lovely accompaniment to any salad or slaw.


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

Root Veggies

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

Sweet Potatoes

Parsnips, also called parsley root, looks like a cream-colored carrot and has the same texture and gentle flavor. 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.


Fill your plate with the fun, flavor and nutrition of root veggies. I guarantee you'll be glad you got to know them! 

Get started cooking with root vegetables with these tasty recipes.