From the author of more than 10 cookbooks comes this comprehensive guide and collection of recipes using root vegetables.  Discover the fascinating history and lore of 29 major roots, their nutritional content, how to buy and store them, and much more, from the familiar (beets, carrots, potatoes) to the unfamiliar (jicama, salsify, malanga) to the practically unheard of (cassava, galangal, crosnes).

The best part?  More than 225 recipes—salads, soups, side dishes, main courses, drinks, and desserts—that bring out the earthy goodness of each and every one of these intriguing vegetables.  From Andean tubers and burdock to yams and yuca, this essential culinary encyclopedia lets dedicated home cooks achieve a new level of taste and sophistication in their everyday cooking.

Roots COV

Reprinted with permission from  Roots by Diane Morgan (introduction by Deborah Madison), copyright (c) 2012.  Published by Chronicle Books, all rights reserved.  Photography (c) 2012 by Antonis Achilleos.  Support your local bookstore, or buy the book through our affiliate links at IndieBound or

Roots_Rutabaga Hash

Rutabaga Hash With Onions and Crisp Bacon

Serves 4 to 6

Make this hash for a weekend brunch or as an easy weeknight supper.  I like to serve it with a tossed green salad or a steamed vegetable and a crusty loaf of bread.  Pass Tabasco or other hot sauce at the table; the vinegary, smoky flavor of hot sauce complements the rutabagas, bacon, and chiles.  Poach eggs to place on top of this hearty hash.  The runny soft-cooked eggs are a perfect accompaniment.


6 slices bacon, about 5 oz / 140 g, cut into ¾-in / 2-cm pieces
2 lb / 910 g rutabagas, ends trimmed, peeled, and cut into ½-in / 12-mm dice
1 large yellow onion, cut into ½-in / 12-mm dice
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into slices ¼ in / 6 mm thick
1 Anaheim chile, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-in / 12-mm dice
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
½ tsp kosher or fine sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
Tabasco or other hot-pepper sauce for serving

  1. In a 12-in / 30.5-cm frying pan, preferably cast iron, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
  1. Pour off all but ¼ cup / 60 ml of the fat from the pan. Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the rutabagas and onion, and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring once, for 7 minutes to steam the rutabagas.  Uncover the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are browned at the edges, about 1 minute longer.
  1. Add the celery and both chiles, stir briefly, and then cover and cook for 3 minutes longer. Uncover the pan and add the salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the rutabagas are fork-tender and the celery is crisp but not raw tasting.  Fold in the cilantro and bacon.  Serve immediately, garnished with additional cilantro.  Pass the hot-pepper sauce at the table.

Roots_Homemade Ginger Ale

Homemade Ginger Ale

Makes 1 cup / 240 ml ginger syrup, enough for 4 drinks

Who knew it could be so simple to make ginger ale at home?  Here’s an all-natural version, blissfully free of high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives.  When I compared this homemade ginger ale to a national brand, it proved unrivaled in spicy, aromatic ginger flavor.  Although the ginger syrup recipe makes enough for just four servings, it is easily doubled.  Store the remainder in the refrigerator to use whenever you crave a tall, sparkling glass of refreshing ginger ale.

Ginger Syrup

½ cup / 55 g grated fresh ginger
1 cup / 200 g firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup / 240 ml water

Ice cubes

4 cups / 960 ml club soda

¼ cup / 60 ml fresh lime juice

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

4 lime wedges

  1. To make the ginger syrup, in a small saucepan, combine the ginger, brown sugar, and water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes to completely dissolve the sugar and infuse the syrup.  Remove from the heat and let the ginger steep in the syrup until cool, about 30 minutes.  Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a container with a tight-fitting lid and then cover and refrigerate until well chilled.  (The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)
  1. Fill four 16-oz / 480-ml glasses two-thirds full of ice. Pour ¼ cup / 60 ml of the syrup, 1 cup / 240 ml of the club soda, 1 tbsp of the lime juice, and 1 tsp of the lemon juice into each glass and stir to combine.  Garnish each glass with a lime wedge and serve immediately.

Roots_Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes With Orange Buttercream

Makes 12 cupcakes

These darling magenta cupcakes are brilliantly colored all the way through.  No food coloring is used here.  The color comes from puréeing freshly roasted beets.  I tested the recipe with canned beets and the color was drab and faded.  But roasting beets is easy, and you can measure and prepare the rest of the ingredients for the cupcakes and buttercream while they roast.  I finely chop the roasted beets and then purée them in a food processor.  Let the machine run for a couple of minutes until the purée is completely smooth.


2 cups / 200 g sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher or fine sea salt
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ cups / 340 g puréed Simple Roasted Beets (please see separate recipe), prepared with red beets (3 medium or 2 large beets)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp / 225 g granulated sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
⅔ cup / 165 ml canola or other neutral oil
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract

Orange Buttercream

1¼ cups / 280 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups / 200 g confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
½ tsp pure orange oil (see Cook’s Note)
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 tbsp fresh orange juice

  1. To make the cupcakes, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F / 180°C / gas 4. Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with paper liners.
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the beet purée, granulated sugar, eggs, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, stir in one-third of the flour mixture, continuing to stir just until the flour disappears.  Do not beat or overmix.  Repeat, adding the remaining flour mixture in two batches.
  1. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing the batter evenly and filling each cup almost to the top of the liner. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Then carefully release the cupcakes from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 1 hour.
  1. To make the buttercream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl using a handheld mixer, cream the butter on low speed until creamy and smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream, orange oil, and vanilla and beat on low speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes.  Add the orange juice, a little at a time, until the buttercream is fluffy and smooth.
  1. Spread a thick layer of buttercream on the top of each cooled cupcake, swirling it to create a decorative finish. Alternatively, transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip and pipe the frosting on the top of each cupcake.  The cupcakes can be made in advance; cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.


Cook’s Note

Pure orange oil is an essential oil that is cold pressed from the rind of oranges. Do not confuse it with pure orange extract, which is alcohol flavored with orange oil.  Look for pure orange oil in the baking section of natural foods stores, at baking supply stores, or in Middle Eastern grocery stores.  Two brands I often see are Boyajian and Frontier.


Diane Morgan is an award-winning teacher, cookbook author, and freelance food writer.  She lives in Portland, Oregon.  Deborah Madison is an award-winning cookbook author and writes articles on cooking, food, and farming.  Antonis Achilleos is a New York–based food photographer.

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