Au­tumn Found Un­der­ground

Hid­den from sight, not of­ten eaten, ugly-look­ing — Katie Shapiro looks at the culi­nary pos­si­bil­i­ties of work­ing with root veg­eta­bles

Ottawa Magazine - - INDULGE -

Knobby, bul­bous, and ir­reg­u­larly shaped, root veg­eta­bles might not be the dar­lings of In­sta­gram fol­low­ing all that pho­to­genic sum­mer pro­duce, but that shouldn’t stop you from sink­ing your teeth into these ver­sa­tile veg­gies.

The root veg­etable cat­e­gory en­com­passes ev­ery­thing from car­rots and beets to radishes and gin­ger. Those are some of the pret­tier ones. I set out to see what Ot­tawa chefs are do­ing with three de­cid­edly less eye-catch­ing va­ri­eties: cel­ery root, sun­chokes, and turnips.

Not one to pick her pro­duce on the ba­sis of colour, chef Marysol Fou­cault, owner of Edgar in Gatineau, says she un­der­stands why peo­ple might be less in­clined to work with cel­ery root if they are un­fa­mil­iar with it. It’s brown and it looks kind of like a brain. But look past its gnarly ex­te­rior, and you’ll see that it of­fers a great com­bi­na­tion of flavours: it is rem­i­nis­cent of cel­ery but is more work­able. Fou­cault calls it a “tastier potato.” To show off cel­ery root, she made a cel­ery root brown but­ter pavé with a cel­ery and cel­ery root cream, topped with crispy chicken skins. (A pavé is ba­si­cally any dish in a rec­tan­gu­lar shape — in this case, it’s like a gratin.)

Known by many as the queen of brunch, Fou­cault has in­cluded the com­po­nents of this cel­ery root dish on her brunch menus, and you might see the full dish at her restau­rant this sea­son.

At town. on El­gin Street, chef Marc Do­iron makes sun­chokes the star in his dish Sun­chokes Four Ways. Din­ers of­ten pause to ask ex­actly what sun­chokes are. Known also as Jerusalem ar­ti­chokes, they are the tu­ber of a sun­flower plant. Slightly nutty and tast­ing a bit like a cross be­tween pota­toes and ar­ti­chokes, raw sun­chokes of­fer a nice crunch but are soft and creamy when cooked. They tend to be a com­mon in­gre­di­ent on lo­ca­vore menus once au­tumn ar­rives and are eas­ily found in most pro­duce sec­tions.

With sun­chokes pick­led, raw, roasted, and fried, the name of the dish is self-ex­plana­tory. The med­ley of sun­chokes is set atop a vi­brant cher­moula sauce (think Moroc­can salsa verde) and gar­nished with pre­served lemon. Right off the bat, that’s four easy ways to en­joy sun­chokes. They also ap­pear in town.’s veg­e­tar­ian ver­sion of a Cae­sar salad as the sub­sti­tute for ba­con. While it might take a bit of prep to en­joy the veg­etable all four ways at home, each com­po­nent is de­li­cious on its own.

Ac­cord­ing to food his­to­ri­ans, the turnip is one of the old­est cul­ti­vated veg­eta­bles. Also known as rutabaga, it is a veg­etable that Ot­tawans are al­ready very fa­mil­iar with as that brightly pink pick­led in­gre­di­ent in shawarma. Like most root veg­eta­bles, turnips are Its day in the sun Sun­chokes fea­tured four ways — pick­led, raw, roasted, and fried — by town.’s Marc Do­iron

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