It’s root vegetable and exotic fruit month
The month of December is ‘Root Vegetable and Exotic Fruits’ month. Root vegetables are often over-looked when choosing vegetables as part of your daily meals. They grow well during the winter months and are a fun thing to include, especially if you have a desire to eat with the seasons. Root vegetables are the perfect winter food and can be prepared in a variety of ways including in hearty, warm soups or stews. Exotic fruits are called exotic for a reason. They may or may not be a part of your staple diet but it’s a fun opportunity to branch out and try something new that you’ve never tried before.
Here are a couple of recipes that incorporate root vegetables and exotic fruits. Bring one to a holiday party and surprise everyone with your creativity and uniqueness.
Roasted Root Vegetables With Polenta
• 2 large carrots (3/4 to 1 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (quarter at the fat ends, cut in half at the thin ends, then cut in thick slices)
• 1 large parsnip (about 1/2 pound), quartered, cored and cut in 3/4-inch pieces
• 1 medium-size fennel bulb, quartered, cored and cut in 3/4 inch pieces
• 1 medium or large red onion, cut in large dice
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• Chopped fresh rosemary, thyme or sage, about 2 teaspoons (optional)
• 1 cup polenta
• 1 quart water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional but recommended)
• 1 batch marinara sauce (optional)
1 Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan or a baking dish with parchment or foil. Toss vegetables with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh herbs if using. Spread vegetables in an even layer.
2 Combine polenta, water, and salt in a 2-quart baking dish and stir together. Place polenta and vegetables in the oven. If you can’t fit both pans on the same (middle) rack, place vegetables on a lower rack. Roast vegetables for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or until soft and beginning to caramelize. Remove from the oven.
3 If serving this with marinara sauce, make the sauce while the vegetables and polenta are in the oven.
4 Continue to bake the polenta until it has been in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes and has absorbed the water. Remove from oven and stir in butter. Use a fork or a spatula to stir the polenta well, and return to oven for 5 to 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and stir again. Carefully taste a little bit of the polenta; if it is not completely soft, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes.
5 Remove polenta from oven and stir in 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, if using. Immediately spoon polenta onto plates and make a depression in the middle. Ladle on some marinara sauce and top with a generous spoonful of roasted vegetables. Sprinkle on remaining Parmesan and serve.
Gratin Of Exotic Fruits
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 1 piece fresh ginger, 2 inches long, peeled
• 1 fresh, ripe mango, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
• 1 fresh, ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
• 3 oranges, peeled of all skin and pith, cut crosswise in 1/4-inch slices and seeded
• 1 fresh pineapple, trimmed, peeled, cored and cut across into1/4-inch thick rings
1 Place the sugar and ginger in a glass jar and let stand for 2 days. Preheat broiler.
2 Toss the mango, papaya and oranges together with 1/2 cup of the ginger sugar.
3 Place the mixture in a 10-inch quiche dish. Top with the pineapple rings. Coat the pineapple heavily with the remaining ginger sugar.
4 Broil until the sugar is caramelized, for a sugary, even crust, about 10 minutes.