Well winter is finally here ... snow is falling and the ski lifts are running. Soon enough town will be filled and, if we are lucky, another snow-filled season will flourish. As the cold overtakes my desire to keep wearing my flip-flops, the reality of the hearty mountain lifestyle will once again take over.In the past, the fall was a time to late harvest root vegetables of many varieties to prepare them for storage so that they could be consumed over the course of the winter. I can remember the days when my grandparents filled their cellar with freshly harvested beets, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, etc. Of course, besides them being extremely durable during the winter, they are delicious and very versatile. And with one of my main focuses with food being nutrition, we can have a look at some of the wonderful health benefits of root veggies. "Although each root vegetable has its own nutritional makeup, as a group they are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, potassium and antioxidants," says Kelly Morrow, MS, RD, a nutrition clinic coordinator at Bastyr University Center for Natural Health in Seattle. "In fact, potatoes are among the highest in potassium of any fruit or vegetable commonly eaten in this country, while orange root vegetables are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A." Let's look at two of my favorites. Carrots contain some of the highest levels of beta-carotene available in a single food source. They are loaded with vitamin C and potassium. Carrots have the highest nutritional value when lightly cooked because the outer fiber breaks down to enable easier nutrient absorption. Beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables and are packed with vitamins A, B and C, along with potassium and a plethora of other minerals and are also considered blood cleansers and builders. Boiling beets causes nutrient loss, so steam beets in their skins or roast them peeled. Raw beets have a crunchy texture that becomes soft and buttery when they are cooked. Beet greens are typically thrown out, but they too contain many nutrients and great flavor. So just like grandma said, "eat your vegetables" and enjoy healthy delicious cuisine.ian t. buchanan is the chef/owner of Open To The World Private Chef Services and lead instructor at CMC Breckenridge's Center For Lifelong Learning Culinary Program. View Buchanan's website at www.open2theworld.com, contact him at (440) 376-0096 or swing by and sign up for a culinary class at CMC Breckenridge.
For the vinaigrette:1/2 cup olive oil plus 1 Tablespoon 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar1 teaspoon dijon mustardsalt and pepper to taste1 Tablespoon shallots, minced2 teaspoons garlic, minced1/4 cup pistachios, shelled, coarsely chopped save a few whole for garnishFor the salad:1 pound fresh green beans, blanched1 pound beets peeled, cut into wedges and roasted1 small bunch fresh mint leaves8-10 ounces goat cheesesalt and pepper to tasteoil for roasting---------------------------------------------------------Preheat oven to 450 F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Peel the beets and cut into wedges. Toss with a little oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking pan and roast until fully cooked and nicely colored. Remove and cool.To blanch the beans, add ice and water to a large bowl for a water bath. Place beans on the other pot of boiling water and cook about 1-2 minutes then add them to the ice bath and cool for about 5 minutes, remove and drain well.To make the dressing, heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the pistachios and toast slightly, then add 1 Tablespoon oil and the shallots and garlic, saute until soft and remove from heat. Whisk in the vinegar and mustard and let cool slightly. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle the remaining oil into the mixture to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.Place the beets and the green beans in two separate bowls (the beets will bleed) and toss each with enough dressing to lightly coat, mint leaves and salt and pepper.Arrange the salad on a plate with the goat cheese, drizzle with remaining vinaigrette if desired and garnish with whole pistachios and freshly ground pepper.
2 ounces butter or vegetable oil (1/4 cup)1/2 onion, diced1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced1 teaspoon curry powder1/4 cup all-purpose flour6 carrots, small dice1 quart stock, chicken or veggie1/2 cup heavy creamSalt and pepper to tasteFresh basil, cilantro or tarragon for garnish---------------------------------------------------------Preheat a large pot over medium heat and cook onions at medium heat until translucent.Add spices and continue to cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.Add flour to form a roux and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, do not allow to brown.Add stock and carrots and bring to boil, then set to low and simmer until carrots are soft.Puree soup with blender, food processor or immersion blender, and return to pot.Add cream & return to simmer for 2-3 minutes.Garnish and enjoy.