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How to cook with delicious root veggies - 3 different ways

Foolproof crispy onion rings. Picture: Pexels

Foolproof crispy onion rings. Picture: Pexels

Published Jul 21, 2022


Root vegetables - vegetables where the edible root or tuber grows underground - are incredibly versatile and simple to cook.

With an earthy sweetness and a starchy heft, they can be hearty enough to build a meal around or a light and fresh snack.

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They also keep in storage remarkably well, which is a good thing.

Most root vegetables are in-season through spring, but you can buy them year-round.

Some root vegetables are given the cold shoulder because they have the reputation of tasting earthy and even bitter.

Root vegetables are quite literally the fruits of the earth, the hearty bulbs that swell and thrive beneath the soil.

They themselves absorb nutrients from the soil, fortifying them as some of the heartiest, healthiest foods you can find when the temperatures are cooler.

Plus, pulling up your root vegetables at harvest time, to reveal full orange carrots or bright beetroots, is as exciting as discovering buried treasure.

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Here are some of the healthiest root vegetables and how you can cook with some of them.

  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac

Foolproof crispy onion rings


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1 large yellow onion, sliced

1 large egg

¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

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1 cup milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp baking powder

6 cups vegetable or canola oil, for frying

For serving (optional):


Sriracha sauce


In a large bowl, combine egg, ¼ cup oil, and milk. Mix with an electric mixer, set to low speed, for 1 minute. Add dry ingredients and continue to mix until smooth.

Add 6 cups of oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot, over medium heat. Preheat for about 10 minutes, or until the oil reaches about 375°C. Reduce heat to low-medium. Prepare a large baking sheet with paper towels, to drain excess grease off the fried onion rings.

Dip onion slices in batter, then place into the hot oil. Do this in batches of 4-5 onion rings at a time, so they don't stick together. Fry until golden on both sides, flipping after 30 seconds to a minute. Be attentive and take care not to burn. You may need to continue to reduce your heat as they cook.

With a slotted spoon, remove onion rings to a paper towel-lined sheet. Repeat with remaining batches.

Serve with ketchup, or a spicy ketchup plus Sriracha mixture.

Recipe: Georgia Johnson, The Comfort of Cooking.

Creamy mashed potatoes. Picture: Supplied

Creamy mashed potatoes

Serves: 8


8 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 cloves of garlic, quartered

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or chives

¼ cup low-fat or fat-free milk

Lemon juice and black pepper to taste


Place potatoes, garlic, ½ tsp of salt, and some water in a pot. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat.

Simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Drain well and return potatoes and garlic to the pot.

Mash with a potato masher and stir in the remaining ingredients to form a smooth mixture.

Serve as a side dish with a meat dish of your choice.

Recipe: Cooking from the Heart.

Turnip colcannon. Picture: Deb Lindsey

Turnip colcannon

Serves: 6


One large bunch of turnips with greens attached

Coarse salt

3 tbsp unsalted butter

¼ cup heavy cream


Separate the turnips from their greens.

Rinse the greens well, then coarsely chop them.

Peel the turnips, then coarsely chop them.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.

Add a generous pinch or two of salt.

Add the turnips and cook (uncovered) for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are soft.

Add the greens to the pot; cook for about 3 minutes; by this time the turnips should be quite soft and the greens should be bright green and tender.

Drain the turnips and greens in a colander and then return to the empty pot (off the heat).

Add the butter and heavy cream, then use a potato masher to crush everything together.

Season lightly with salt and serve hot.

Recipe from IOL Archives.