During the past year, my husband and I have been on a healthy eating binge. As such, we have ventured out and discovered new and interesting foods. We have a local organize health food store, and a very upscale supermarket, that dares to venture out and sell different items. Lately, we have been into trying new produce. This has taken us to discovering and learning how to cook with roots. Of course we all know that potatoes and carrots are root foods. But these are a totally different category of root foods that we neither one had heard of before last year.
We have discovered four new root foods, that all have different unique and outstanding flavors. While some are better raw, others taste better cooked.
1) Burdock root: This is also knows as gobo root or beggar’s button. My husband states that his Mother in the mountains in North Carolina, use to cook with Burdock root. However, I had never eaten any until the past year. It is a small, firm, light brown stalk root. If the root has gotten too brown, or mushy, it is not good to buy. It is great added to soups and stews. We tried stir frying it, as the directions say it is often used in Asian cooking. This was a great way to eat it also.
2) Daikon: This is a white radish type root. It is also knows as Japanese radish or icicle radish. It is larger and much milder than a traditional red radish. It is best to buy when it is firm and before it turns yellow. Avoid those. My favorite way to use daikon is to use it grated on salads, as you would a regular radish. But it can also be stewed and eaten as a regular vegetable dish. Some people say they put it in sushi, but as I’m not a sushi lover, I think I’ll skip on that one.
3) Lotus Root: What I liked about the Lotus Root is the beautiful design on the inside of the root when it is sliced. It is an art work in and of itself. It is difficult to find it fresh, but we had some luck looking in the Asian section of the organic food store, and finding it canned. We tried cooking it in some vegetable soup. It was ok, but far from my favorite root vegetable that we have tried.
4) Salsify: This is also known as goats beard or oyster plant. Again, it was hard to find fresh, but we were able to find it in the vegetarian section of the store. I suppose this is because salsify resembles artichokes when cooked. We quickly discovered that it wasn’t that great raw. If you can buy it fresh, it does rot quickly, so I would suggest buying the canned version. My favorite way to eat salsify was to use it in soups. It adds a wonderful flavor to the other vegetables in the mix
With the variety of foods in our world and the expanding cultures in our country, I think it is a wonderful thing to be exposed to different foods that weren’t available years ago. I sure am taking advantage of this added benefit of a more eclectic society.