Looking for something to switch up your old winter vegetable recipes? We’ve got something new and exotic to replace traditional seasonal vegetables like potatoes, beets, carrots and winter squashes that you’ll love. Hailing from around the world, our 5 new favorite roots and tubers are nutritious, delicious and perfect for this season’s stews, soups and roasts. Introduce your kitchen to the likes of cassava, jerusalem artichoke, yacon, oca, and reedmace for an exciting eating experience.
Cassava is an ancient South American root vegetable that thrives even in the poorest of conditions and extreme drought. It is commonly used throughout Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, with the appearance of a thick-skinned sweet potato. Cassava, also known as yuca, is rich in carbohydrates and a great source of calcium and vitamin C and has even been used to treat bladder infections. Try it in warm and soothing winter vegetable recipes like avocado tortilla soup that can be made as a vegan version, or go sweet and make a traditional Filipino cassava cake.
2. Jerusalem Artichoke
You may already be familiar with Jerusalem artichokes, named for their similar flavor to globe artichokes, which are nonetheless a completely different plant and vegetable. These tubers grow underground and are related to sunflowers, as the stalk produces a bunch of bright, yellow flowers halfway through the plant’s growing season. Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, are high in a carbohydrate known as inulin, and are a fantastic source of potassium and iron. Try them withmanouri cheese and basil oil as in chef Manori Ottolenghi’s recipe – you can even substitute the cheese for baked tofu for a healthy vegan version.
This tuber also hails from South America and is a close relative of the Jerusalem artichoke. Sweet in flavor and crisp in texture, yacon is tasty enough to slice into salad or cut into chunks for a stew or puree into a heart soup. They also contain high quantities of inulin, and are considered a prebiotic, meaning that they feed friendly bacteria that allow for intestinal and colonic health. Try a yacon carrot salad with wasabi for something light and spicy, or opt for a Thai chicken curry with yacon for something heartier.
Oca is another, rather strange looking tuber also known as the New Zealand yam. Oca tubers can be white, cream, yellow, orange, pink, red, and/or purple in color, and often about four inches long. This tuber is relatively high in protein and provides generous amounts of iron, potassium and vitamin C. Although highly nutritious, oca does contain oxalates, which can be hard on the kidneys if consumed in large amounts. However, this warm oca salad is perfect for winter weather, and is completely safe to enjoy every now and then.
Reedmace is a wetland plant that is also known as cattail or typha. The rhizome roots of the plant were originally used by the Celts and early Russian populations for culinary purposes, and can still be foraged in many parts of the northern hemisphere. Young roots can be peeled and prepared like asparagus, but possibly more exciting is the fact that the root can be dried and ground into a gluten-free flour. Learn how to make reedmace flour from Fergus to Forager and try it for your next baked good!
By: Leena Oijala