Book review: Recipes from the Root Cellar.

Recipes from the Root Cellar – Andrea Chesman (2010, Storey Publishing, Massachusetts)

I normally review cookbooks (and other non-gardening-related books) on my other blog, The Door is Ajar, but Recipes from the Root Cellar is such a great resource for anyone still harvesting root veggies, pulling them from cold storage, or receiving them in winter CSA shares that I thought it would be more appropriate to post it here.  I’ve been getting a lot of potatoes, carrots, beets, and Jerusalem artichokes in my CSA baskets, and I was in dire need of some interesting recipes.  One of my classmates in my Sustainable Urban Crop Production course recommended this cookbook, and she was right, it IS fantastic!

There are nearly 300 recipes in this large tome, divided into categories such as Salads and Pickled Vegetables; Soups; Beans, Rice and Grains; Vegetarian Main Dishes; and Mains with Meat, Poultry, Fish and Seafood.  (And, of course, you can’t forget my favourite – the Baked Goods and Desserts chapter, which includes everything from the simple, ubiquitous Applesauce to marvellous-sounding concoctions such as Coconut-Pumpkin Pie and Maple Apple Tea-Cake.  Oh, yeah).

I’ve said it before in other cookbook reviews:  I love it when a cookbook is accessible.  For me, this means that the recipes can’t have 2 million ingredients (that I have to go to specialty shops to obtain), nor can they require two days’ or more worth of prep.  I’m not afraid of a cooking challenge, but the recipes themselves must be written so that they’re easy to follow.  Recipes from the Root Cellar is perfect – nothing in here is convoluted or complicated.  I’ve already tried the Samosas (with potatoes and peas), and they were fun, simple, and supremely delicious.

Another great thing about Recipes from the Root Cellar is international scope of the recipes:  you can make everything from Hot German Potato Salad with Sauerkraut and Swedish Hasselback Potatoes, to Cajun-Spiced Black Beans and Sausage, Curried Dahl, Mujdhara,  Eastern European Kasha Varnishkes, Scottish Rumbledethump (it’s cabbage and potatoes!), and Vegetarian Lo Mein with Spicy Tofu.

If you want recipes to use up salsify, beets, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, rutabagas, pumpkins and winter squash, onions, leeks, cabbage, Asian greens and kale…look no further.  If there’s one drawback to this cookbook, it’s that there are no photographs to show the dishes.  Normally, that’s a huge no-no for me, but the ease of the recipes makes me confident that I can cook anything in the book…without an image to guide me.

(Oh, and if your garden is not encrusted with ice and snow yet, and you’re still able to harvest some of your root vegetables, here’s a great article detailing why a little light frost is actually a good thing for some of your crops).

What is your favourite way to prepare root veggies?

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