Though there continue to be warm days, there is no denying that we are heading toward the coldest, darkest part of the year. Summer produce is long gone from the garden and farmers market, but thankfully we have root vegetables to look forward to. Though it can feel bleak at this time of the year, there is still so much abundance to share in the form of carrots, turnips, beets, potatoes, and radishes.
At this time of year, schoolchildren come to the Island Grown Initiative Farm to help us glean carrots and potatoes to feed the community. In an hour, a class can harvest between 400 and 1,000 pounds of root vegetables, which will be donated to school cafeterias for lunches and to the Food Pantry to feed the Island community. Each time they dig a treasure out from the soil, they excitedly exclaim that it’s the best carrot or potato they’ve ever seen. We have more than 20 classes coming to the farm this fall, so that’s a lot of root vegetables to feed the community!
Root vegetables can be stored in the produce drawer of your refrigerator for quite a long time. Chop and toss carrots with cumin and oil, and roast to stuff into tacos. Steam turnips and mash them as a side dish. Beets are delicious grated raw onto salad, but if you want a real treat, roast them and add to hummus. The color will be bright pink, and the roasted beet imparts an incredibly sweet flavor.
Recipe by Gabrielle Chronister
1 medium beet
1 19-oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
juice of ½ lemon
1 small clove of garlic, minced
¼ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. water or olive oil
Wash the beet well, pierce with a fork, wrap in tin foil, and roast in a preheated 400° oven for one hour. Let cool, then remove the skin. Chop beet into small pieces.
Combine chopped beet and all other ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth. Scrape sides down and process another minute, until creamy. Add more water or olive oil if you need more liquid to blend. Salt and pepper to taste if need be.
Serve drizzled with olive oil and a light dusting of cumin, and enjoy!