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Roots: The Definitive Compendium With More Than 225 Recipes

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Roots by Diane Morgan

Roots by Diane Morgan

Photo © Molly Watson
Get beyond potatoes and carrots. Move past beets and and sweet potatoes. Roots: The Definitive Compendium With More Than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan tackles the wide, sometimes a bit wooly, and wonderful world of tubers, rhizomes, corms, and roots of all kinds. But don't worry, there are plenty of tempting new ways to use old favorites, too.

A Eye-Opening Range of Roots

The first thing about Roots to smack me right in the face is the existence of something called arrowhead. It is also known as a Chinese potato, duck potato, and Indian potato. In Cantonese it is tse goo; in Mandarin it is cigu; in Japanese it is kuwai. I had never heard of any of them. As someone who spends a lot of my time thinking about vegetables, it was pretty darn exciting to open a book about something as seemingly commonplace as "root vegetables" and find one I'd never heard of.

(Arrowhead grows in marshes, is harvested in fall and early winter, and is a starchy corm - which is a swollen stem end of a plant rather than a true root or tuber - with higher protein, mineral, and fiber levels than the similar starchy potato or taro. Arrowhead can be prepared much like potatoes, as evidenced in the recipe for Arrowhead Leek Soup and Roasted Lemongrass Chicken with Arrowhead. It is particularly prized a as New Year's food in Japan.)

From Andean tubers (various special potato varieties) and Arrowhead, Roots alphabetically and quite elegantly moves to beets, burdock root, carrots, celery root, crosne, galangal, ginger, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, lotus root, malanga, parsley root, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, salsify, sweet potatoes, taro, turmeric, turnips, wasabi, water chestnuts, yams, and yuca. Each chapter introduces the vegetable and contains about ten recipes for using it in simple to slightly more sophisticated ways.

Perfect Local Eating Handbook

For all those try-to-be locavores in chilly climes, Roots seems to be a must-have for getting through the long winter months when storage vegetables like potatoes, beets, and carrots are a local eater's best friends. Sure, there's a lovely recipe for Celery Root Rémoulade and a Cream of Celery Root Soup, which are two fairly obvious and common uses for celery root, the hairy bulb available from mid-fall through winter in many regions. But there is also a Celery Root Purée With Pear and Truffled Celery Root Flan With Bacon Garnish - two ways to mix up how you use one particular root vegetable, but also a jumping off point for how you might use others.

While Roots call itself a "definitive compendium" (a daring stand to take about oneself!), I see it more as a source of real inspiration. It's part love letter to root vegetables and part intimate portrait that details why underground edibles are lovelier and tastier than they often get credit for.

Disclosure: As in common practice in the industry, a review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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