Roasted Root Vegetables and Root Vegetable Bisque

picture132 (2)During a recent visit to my favorite food co-op, I spotted a ten pound bag of locally grown organic carrots.  Then I discovered a smaller, three pound bag of squatty little yellow carrots, which I just had to try.  The celeriac smelled wonderful, the parsnips felt fresh, and who can resist beautiful red beets?  Before I realized what I had done, I was on my way out of the co-op with 20 pounds of root veggies.

I don’t think it’s possible to have too many root vegetables.  Root veggies are among the most economical ingredients available in the produce section of any market.  They’re a versatile addition to many meals, and hearty enough to hold the starring role in a vegetarian or vegan dinner.  Root vegetables are generally low in calories, are full of fiber, and offer up a host of antioxidants, essential minerals, and vitamins such as A, B complex, and C.  Today, we will enjoy root vegetables two ways.  First, we will prepare a simple roasted root medley.  Second, we will make broth from the peels, which will serve as the base for a delicious bisque.  Waste not, want not!

picture123Ingredients (makes 4 hearty servings of each dish)

6 large or 8 small orange carrots

3 yellow carrots

3 parsnips

3 red beets

1 celeriac

3 tablespoons olive oil

dash salt, pepper

1 cup red lentils

4 cups water

1 tablespoon salt-free seasoning blend (I like “Forward!” from Penzeys)

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Directions

picture127Step 1) Wash all root vegetables carefully, as we will be using the peels!

Step 2) Peel carrots, parsnips, and beets.  Trim the “lumpy and bumpy” surface off of the celeriac, until you are left with what looks like a smooth, white beet.

Step 3) Place all peels and trimmings in a picture129pot with 4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour.

Step 4) After one hour, strain broth through a sieve, and discard the peels into your compost bin.

Step 5)  Return broth to the pot and add picture124lentils.  Simmer until lentils are soft, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Step 6) While broth is simmering, cut all root vegetables into 1 inch chunks and place in a  plastic bag.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the bag.  Add a dash of salt and pepper.  Carefully shake the bag to picture126evenly coat the vegetables.

Step 7) Use remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to grease a large baking pan.  Spread vegetables onto the baking pan, and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 – 40 minutes, or until slightly browned on the outside and soft on the inside.  Stir after 20 minutes.

picture130Step 8) Transfer 4 cups of roasted root vegetables to the pot with the broth and lentils.  Arrange the remaining vegetables on a serving platter.

Step 9) Use an immersion blender to puree your pot of broth, lentils, and root vegetables.  Season with salt-free seasoning blend and coarse ground black pepper.  Enjoy!