Tuesday, October 21, 2008


We have had several frost scares, though no hard frosts yet. The appetite turns to warm baked dishes with apples and orange-fleshed winter squash. But there are also root vegetables that come into their own now and continue to thrive during these cooling days.

The red root on the left is Scarlet Queen turnip. This can be larger than the specimen shown and it has continued to grow and thrive through the cooler weather. It has a much finer texture than the common purple-top turnip and gets large without being either woody or pithy. It is from Johnny's Select Seeds. On the right is President celery root (celeriac). Its green leaves are still perfect and the roots are just now beginning to fill out. I started the seeds, from Cook's, very early but waited to put the plants out until it became warm, on the advice that the plants might otherwise bolt in warm weather.

I was introduced to these last year by a local organic grower, Tantré, and because I had both of them in my refrigerator I made a serendipitous discovery that they make a lovely salad in combination with each other. Scarlet Queen can also be cooked any way you cook turnips and celeriac is used in cooked dishes or made into a purée. But the fine firm texture of the two roots combines into a light fresh salad that can be kept for days in the refrigerator.

Julienne of Fall Root Vegetables

Peel Scarlet Queen turnip roots and celery roots in equal numbers and cut off any discoloration. Cut each into long narrow strips and combine with a vinaigrette (3 T olive oil to 1 T good vinegar, salt and pepper), a scallion cut into disks, and a smattering of dried basil or other herb. Marinate in the dressing a few minutes and serve.

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