Digging In To Your Roots


Most people already have one root vegetable — horseradish, to denote maror — on their seder table. But for kosher cooks looking for a little more excitement over the weeklong holiday, there should be a few more colorful tubers at the meal.

“[Root vegetables] are one of those things you often can do almost anything with,” says Shaya Klechevsky, a kosher personal chef and caterer in New York who has been featured on the Food Network. Whether you pick up a rutabaga, a yuca or a turnip, says Klechevsky, you can roast it, chop it up for a croquette or even fry it up as a latke.

A Jerusalem artichoke — which is neither an artichoke nor from Jerusalem — is also a tuber that can add unique flavor to your dishes. It can be eaten raw or cooked. “It goes great in salads, inside dishes where you would normally add a water chestnut,” says Klechevsky, who also teaches classes at the JCC in Manhattan.

Pick up a rutabaga for some more interesting, starchy flavors. “Cut it in to tiny chunks, add salt and pepper and a little turmeric and paprika and roast them,” said Klechevsky. He also recommends cooking them with parsnips, and mashing them together with a touch of grated ginger for “a sweet intense flavor.”

For a lighter touch, pick up a jicama, a white, fleshy vegetable that is popular in Mexican cuisine. “The texture is more like an apple,” says Klechevsky, “it has a delicious crunch to it.” It is generally served raw, and often paired with flavors like lime and chili.

For a colorful dish, seek out a variety of beets, says Tamar Genger, a dietician and the founder of joyofkosher.com, which relaunched this week in collaboration with kosher.com. “There are red ones, golden beets and peppermint beets, which are red and white,” says Genger. Beets, easily grated into salads or slaws, can be served cooked or raw.

“Also celery root has become very popular with gourmet chefs,” says Genger. “It actually looks like this knobby ugly root vegetable,” she said, “but it’s wonderful used in soups, or roasted or pureed.” Parsnips “look like carrots but white.” You can slice them thin and make parsnip chips.

So when you’re contemplating your Passover shopping, check out a farmers’ market and add some unique vegetables and tubers to your menu, from daikon (a member of the radish family) to turnips, yuca or yams. “As a dietitian I am always encouraging a variety of vegetables,” says Genger.

E-mail: amy@jewishweek.org

From Tamar Genger
2 large beets, peeled
and cut into chunks
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground
black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 medium sweet potatoes,
cut into chunks
1 large sweet onion, sliced
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a bowl, toss the beets with 1/2 tablespoon oil to coat. Spread on a baking sheet in a singer layer.
Mix the remaining oil with the garlic powder, salt, pepper and brown sugar in a large plastic bag. Place sweet potatoes and onion in the bag, seal and shake to coat vegetables.
Bake beets for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Mix sweet potatoes with the beets onto the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through. It is ready when all the vegetables are tender.

From Shaya Klechevsky

½ medium Jicama, peeled
and julienned (slaw)
2 Granny smith apples (green),
1 small red cabbage, cut into
thin strips (slaw)
2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
1 medium red onion,
thinly sliced half-moon
½ bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
¼ cup walnuts, toasted,
chopped (for those who eat kitniyot)
1 lemon, juiced
½ tsp Cayenne pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
Combine the jicama, apples, cabbage, carrots, red onion and parsley and toss thoroughly to get an even mixture.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and olive oil and whisk. Adjust seasoning (salt and pepper). Set aside when ready to use.
Toast the walnuts in a skillet over medium-high heat until they begin to release their oil and the nutty aroma is released. Immediately transfer to a plate and allow to cool (about 10 minutes).
When ready to serve, add the chopped toasted walnuts and chopped dried apricots to the slaw and toss. Whisk the dressing and pour over the slaw and toss to evenly coat all the ingredients.