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Tips on how to cook root veggies such as turnips, parsnips

November 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Most of us choose russets or tubers when looking for a filling side dish. Well that's too bad, because there are so many root vegetables to perk up your plate. We took a look at the chef's favorites at the Strand House in Manhattan Beach.

'We're afraid of what we don't know - the parsnips, the rutabagas, the turnips," said executive chef Travis Lorton. "They're difficult to cook properly because they're roots. They are fibrous, so you've got to take some care when cooking them."

When in doubt, ask an expert like Lorton, who feels roasting is the way to go.

"We roast parsnips, carrots and turnips and we roast them over here in our wood fire pizza oven," said Lorton.

He likes them charred a bit, so they taste slightly sweeter with a crunch. He chops them, oils them and puts them into the oven. If you don't have a pizza oven, use your broiler.

After they char a bit, Lorton tops them with some olive oil, parsley, toasted almonds and lemon zest.

Another way to get kids of all ages to eat these types of veggies is to puree them like Lorton's butternut squash chestnut soup.

Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seed and strings, and then brush it with a little bit of butter and olive oil.

Roast the squash face side up, and then scoop it out and puree it with toasted chestnuts. The squash will take a while to soften and turn color, but again, roasting gives the squash a great taste.

"We garnish that with some pecans and duck confit and mushrooms," said Lorton.

If you don't have duck confit on hand, the toasted pecans, mushrooms and sage make it taste fabulous without it.

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