Root vegetables get the mash


The one thing you can count on at the farmers market this time of year is plenty of root vegetables.  Carrots and turnips, potatoes and parsnips are everywhere.

These cold weather vegetables are especially good right now, firm in texture and deeply flavorful.  The carrots are particularly sweet.

I usually just roast root vegetables alone or with a chicken.  They’re great simply peeled, cut into fairly uniform chunks, tossed in olive oil with whole cloves of garlic, and baked in a 400 degree oven for about an hour.  Mix up whatever looks good at the market with a little chopped rosemary and you have the best of winter on your dinner plate.

Lately, though, I’ve been simmering a variety of root vegetables together and mashing them with butter and yogurt for  the most comforting of side dishes.  It’s even good  as a light lunch all by itself.

This recipe grew out of one we published in the Mercury News food section a few years back.  Everyone really liked it, but Rebecca Salner, my editor at the time, fell head over heels.  She kept a clipping and sent the recipe to me recently after  I lost track of my copy.

The original recipe from “Kitchen Sense,” by Mitchell Davis (Clarkson Potter, 2006), fed 10 people and called for two sticks of butter and heavy cream.  It was perfect for a holiday feast but I wanted an everyday dish.

So I’ve cut the recipe down, substituted parsnips for celery root, which is a real pain to peel, and slashed the butter.  Yogurt takes the place of cream.  Now I can eat it anytime with less fear for my arteries.

This is a really simple dish to prepare.  Use a hand-held potato masher if you like to preserve a little texture.  For an elegant dish fit for a celebration, use a food mill or pass through a coarse sieve.

Winter never tasted so good.

Winter mash
serves 4

1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1½ – inch chunks
2 medium carrots peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
Kosher salt
1 small bay leaf
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 3 or 4 chunks
¼ cup plain yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the sweet potato, white potatoes, parsnip and carrots into a large pot. Cover with cold water. Add 1½ teaspoons of salt and the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer untl the vegetables are very tender, about 35-40 minutes. Drain. Remove bay leaf.

Mash in the pot with a potato masher or pass through a food mill. Stir in the butter and yogurt until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.  If you need to hold the mash while the rest of the meal is prepared, it can stand for 30 minutes next to the stove in a covered pot.

Adapted from “Kitchen Sense” by Mitchell Davis (Clarkson Potter, 2006)

One thought on “Root vegetables get the mash”

  1. That sounds really good. I like the idea of using yogurt. I’ve been making mashed squash with a drizzle of maple syrup, this would be a nice change of pace!

Comments are closed.