Buttery root vegetable mash.

If you’ve lately been to a winter farmers’ market in our area, you’ve seen abundant root vegetables and winter squashes on the tables. Root vegetables, with their underground growing habit, can withstand cold, blustery weather, especially if they’re cultivated in low tunnels or hoop houses that keep the ground from freezing and heaving out the roots. Squashes, harvested late last fall, are still delicious in all sorts of preparations.

All this produce fits beautifully on our plates right now, when it’s still chilly (well, today it’s going to reach near 70°) and we’re craving as much fresh flavor as we can get.

So this Root Vegetable Mash recipe is perfect.

I started with a recipe from Food & Wine for Braised Short Ribs with Root Vegetable Mash and made a few adaptations. The concept for the mash is simple: Sauté diced mixed vegetables in lots of butter, add liquid, then simmer until they’re tender and simply mash them with a fork. With more butter.

You can use any assortment of root vegetables and winter squash you’d like. I’ve made this with butternut squash, celery root, carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes in various combinations. Do include celery root — its herbaceous flavor works really well in this dish.

This Root Vegetable Mash is a terrific side dish for roast chicken, grilled steak or the braised short ribs the original recipe calls for. While all these roots and squashes are available, give this a try!

root vegetable mash recipe

serves 4

4 pounds mixed root vegetables, at least 3 of the following: celery root, carrot, parsnip, sweet potato, golden beets (see Note)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Minced fresh parsley for finishing

In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat until it's foamy. Add vegetables, garlic, thyme and bay leaves; cook, stirring to coat with butter, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Add honey and stir to coat; cook 10 minutes more, until vegetables begin to soften nicely (some may cook more quickly than others). Add stock; bring to a boil and cook until vegetables are uniformly tender and liquid is almost completely absorbed, about 20 minutes more. Mash the vegetables with a fork; stir in remaining tablespoon of butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scatter minced parsley over the mash before serving.

Note: Parsnips are lovely in this recipe, but I find that some parsnips have a tough inner core that doesn't cook evenly and leaves crunchy bits in your mash. It's easy to spot this core: Quarter the parsnips lengthwise and remove it.

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