We Puerto Ricans love root plants, or what some would call root vegetables. We've got plantains, yuka (cassava), yame, malanga, yams, you name it. When my family got to the mainland a couple of generations ago, we discovered winter root plants; and a whole new aspect to our cookery evolved. In the mainland you had such things as beets, rutabaga, artichokes, parsnips, radishes. We learned that you could cook these vegetables the same way as our forebears had done forever in the Caribbean. Boiled, fried, with a little olive oil over it . . . And we got recipes from our Anglo friends. This made us experiment even more.
The recipe given below follows in this vein. It's roasted turnips. But you can substitute any good, firm, winter root vegetable. I've discovered that one of the best methods to enhance these tubers is to caramelize them using honey, sugar or, my favorite, maple syrup. The recipe is easy, but the result is a toothsome, tender veggie that makes a welcomed side dish to you next roast, chicken dinner, or juicy steak.
4 large turnips (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons maple syrup (can substitute brown sugar, honey, or molasses)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, toss the turnips with the olive oil, salt, pepper, sage and thyme.
3. Drizzle with the maple syrup.
4. Place in a baking pan or dish (I prefer cast-iron). Bake for 45 minutes or until tender.
Yield: 4 servings or more.