Revelling in Root Vegetables

July 16, 2011

Lots of great stuff at the Boulder Farmers’ Market today. For the past few weeks, I’ve been able to do just about all of my vegetable shopping there.  I like the fact that all of it is locally grown, not transported, not stored before I by it. This week I brought home a huge assortment of bright and healthy items:  fava beans, potatoes, leeks, fennel, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, shallots, beets, green onions, carrots, kohlrabi, garlic, mizuna, cilantro, dill and basil.  From the prepared food vendors, I bought some Olomomo Cherry Vanilla Almonds, a small key lime pie from Pie in the Sky, and Pacific Rim Pasta Blend from Pappardelle’s.  I made a stop afterward at the wonderful Savory Spice Shop just off of Pearl Street to replenish my Hot Smoked Hungarian Paprika supply.  I also found some Vanilla Bean Sugar and a great chili powder blend called Lodo Red Adobo.

Acquisitions from the Boulder Farmers' Market

I realized as I started getting everything out for the salad and potato hash that I decided I would concoct, that I had unintentionally picked root vegetables for almost the entire dinner.  Carrots and beets for the salad, and potatoes, fennel, shallots, leeks, and garlic for the hash.

Root Vegetables

For the salad, I planned to use the mizuna for the greens, add some sliced carrots, and I decided I would try grilling some beets.  Who knew that you could grill beets?  Now after trying them, I’m kind of not sure why you’d want to do them any other way.  They have an incredible taste – sweet, and almost caramelized.  I was greatly saddened that in my neophyte grilling status I dropped not one, not two, but three of the 10 slices through the grates into the ashes.

I was completely dazzled by the colors of the beets and carrots after I sliced them.  It was actually a little difficult to tear myself away from looking at them:

Beets and Carrots

Grilled Beets

2 medium sized beets
1-2 tsp olive oil

Wash and peel the beets.  Slice into 1/4 to 1/3 inch slices. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil.  Grill for about 8 minutes on one side, then turn, and grill 6-8 minutes on the second side.

Mizuna with Carrots and Grilled Beets

I wasn’t quite sure what to put in the potato hash I planned to make, but I did a few searches online, and found that leeks and fennel were indeed paired together in several recipes, so I decided to add both.  I use something from the onion family as well as garlic in just about everything I make on the stovetop, so elected to use some shallots, as well as the red garlic.  I’ve been trying different kinds of garlic all season, and I’m never quite sure what type I’ve gotten or how strong it will be.  So I usually just peel it, chop a bit, and take a big whiff.  The red garlic I got was pretty mild, so I decided to use the entire bulb. We still had some roasted red pepper chicken sausage, so I threw that in as well.

Potato, Sausage, Leek, and Fennel Hash

serves 3-4

3 links cooked* chicken sausage, cut into 1/2 cubes
3/4 lb new potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
4 small leeks, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
6 shallots, minced
1 bulb mild garlic (or 3-4 cloves conventional garlic), minced
1 tsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
cayenne pepper
hot smoked Hungarian paprika

Parboil potatoes, either in a pot of boiling water on the stove or in the microwave in a bowl of water on high. Check often, and stop when potatoes are tender (about 6-8 minutes in the microwave). Rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking any further. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add leeks, fennel, shallots, and garlic, and saute until tender and somewhat caramelized, about 6-8 minutes. Add the potatoes, sausage, dill, about 4 shakes of cayenne pepper, and about 8 shakes of the hot smoked Hungarian paprika. Taste, and add more spices if you’d like. Stir until heated through.

* If you are using pre-cooked chicken sausage, you don’t need to cook it additionally, just add it at the end to heat it up.


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