Swedes, celeriac and turnips – learning to love these humble roots

Eating seasonally in the UK isn’t so hard in the summer – from tomatoes and spinach to courgette and cucumber, our mild climate means we have an abundance of British-grown vegetables to choose from. 

Then comes winter. Three months of damp, dark and drizzle and it’s hardly surprising that the only living things that can survive are a selection of rather odd-looking roots: celeriac, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, and the nation’s favourite – swedes.

They may be a little unusual-tasting, but these winter roots are high in fibre and nutrients (turnip leaves are considered a superfood!), low in calories, and when prepared in the right way, surprisingly delicious. Below we explore a few ways to turn these humble roots into tasty dishes…

Root Veg Recipes 
Root Veg Mash 

Mashing up strongly-flavoured root vegetables together with the more bland potato means you can enjoy their unique flavours without them becoming overbearing. 

Root veg mash works well with regular or sweet potatoes, swedes, turnips, celeriac, carrots and Jerusalem artichokes. Steam or boil the veg (steaming is preferable as boiling causes some nutrients to leach out into the water), then mash with either olive oil, butter, margarine or coconut cream and flavour with salt, pepper and a hint of raw garlic. 

Winter Root Veg Salad

Eating enough raw vegetables can be a challenge in winter when salad staples like lettuce and tomatoes are out of season. Grating up root veggies into a salad is a quick and tasty way to add some fresh veg to your plate in winter. Finely grate a selection of carrot, swede, turnip, beetroot, apple and cabbage. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar/lemon, mustard and nutritional yeast (high in vitamin B12). For extra protein, toast walnuts, sunflower or sesame seeds in a frying pan and add to the salad. 

Cheesy Swede, Leek and Apple Bake

This super simple vegetarian recipe is from Riverford Veg. Start by frying leeks in butter for 10 minutes, then add sage and apple juice (or wine!) and cook for 2 minutes. Layer the leeks, along with slices of apple and swede in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15 minutes until golden. Full recipe here.

A quick word on food waste

Root vegetables like potatoes are some of the foods we waste most often. Here are some top tips for preventing waste:

  • Store root veggies in a cool, dark place such as the cellar or fridge. Potatoes and onions shouldn’t be stored together.
  • Eat the peel of thin-skinned veg (the peel contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and up to 33% more fibre than the flesh)
  • Pop any leftover mash or cooked veggies in soups or curries, or freeze for later use.
  • Compost food waste at home or put it in a food recycling caddy, not in the general waste bin. See here for how to make your own compost.  

If UK households stopped binning potatoes, this would do the same for greenhouse gas emissions as planting 5.4 million trees.

For more tips on cooking and growing nutritious food with zero waste, sign up to our monthly newsletter.

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