We’ve been eating leaves all winter - spinach, kale, chard, and lettuce - and now our appetites turn to the parts of the plants that take longer to form. Leeks, potatoes, parsnips, carrots - we love all those roots under the earth. And broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage - we love the flower buds (and in cabbage’s case, the rosette of leaves that forms right before the flower stalk). I truly believe that there is no better way to cook these roots and buds than roasting them.
So that is precisely what I’m doing today, and this tray of veg will become a base for many meals.
Just having the opportunity to go out on a rainy day and prise these roots from the earth, watching the earthworms wriggle away, and smelling that good organic matter smell - well, it’s a privilege to break up the monotony of writing reports and studying for exams with a mosey in the garden. I love watching the flower buds, like broccoli and cauliflower, emerge from the center of the leaves. The garden is beautiful this time of year.
It’s also a joy to wash the veg outside and watch the dark earth run away with the water, not having to worry about wasting resources (we’ve had so much rain this year!). Taking the green tops from the roots and giving them to the chickens, taking the chopped-off ends of the veg to the worm bin. Nothing goes to waste.
Cutting the roots into fat coins and mixing everything together on an oiled tray. Showering them with salt, sliding them into a hot oven (400-425 ish depending on your oven), and smelling them roasting for the next half hour. Taking them out to toss them a bit, roasting them a few minutes longer (5-15 minutes depending on your oven). There is no better way to taste early spring. Your farmers’ markets will have all of these vegetables in abundance, even in colder areas, as all of these overwinter very well and take some frost, or live in greenhouses or under hoop houses in the snow. Go buy a bunch today if you don’t grow them yourself. Roast them, and use them as a base for your meals: As a side dish with roasted meat, as a bed for fried eggs with runny yolks, as a cold condiment on a sandwich, with greens and a simple yogurt-lemon sauce as a salad, mixed with hot rice or quinoa and a vinaigrette. Endless choices.
Soon, the garden will yield garlic scapes, and new peas, and spring onions. Until then, let’s eat our fill of the hearty roots and buds.