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Stop the Clock! With Root Vegetables...

In chef school we learned that if a vegetable grows underground, you should begin the cooking process in cold water (whereas above-ground vegetables should be added to boiling water). It’s always worked for me, but my favorite way to cook root vegetables is slow oven-roasting. It brings out an incredible sweetness and the texture is unparalleled. Parsnips, turnips, rutabagas - they may not be on everyone’s favorite veggie list, but that’s because they haven’t tried them slow-roasted. The imperfect exteriors of these scrumptious veggies –knotty, gnarled and rough-skinned, hide a wealth of complex flavors and nutrients. Rutabagas, turnips and parsnips are high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins, while low in calories. Rutabagas belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, which has cancer preventing properties. They are a good source of vitamin A, B3 (niacin) and potassium. Also known as the Swedish turnip, they’re believed to be a cross between cabbage and turnip.

In most recipes in fact, rutabagas are interchangeable with turnips. Turnips are also cruciferous vegetables. They have lots of utility since you can eat the greens as well as the roots. (Rutabaga greens are inedible). Parsnips look like white carrots and can become woody if they’re too big. High in fiber and Vitamin C, they make a fabulous puree as well as adding a sweet crunch when grated and tossed in a salad. This month’s recipe combines the sweet slow-roasted flavors of all three of these nutrient-packed root veggies with whole grain pasta and Melissa’s garlicky Basil Pesto and smokey Roasted Bell Peppers.

Whole Grain Penne with Roasted Root Vegetables
To ensure a crispy exterior and even browning vegetables should be roasted in a hot oven using a pan large enough to prevent crowding. Change the proportions of the veggies if you like -- just be sure they're cut the same size for uniform baking.
Makes 8 one-cup servings
Image of Whole Grain Penne with Roasted Root Vegetables
8 ounces parsnip, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch pieces
8 ounces rutabaga, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch pieces
8 ounces turnip, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper to taste
8 ounces whole-grain penne or fusilli
2 tablespoons Melissa’s Basil Pesto
1/2 cup Melissa’s Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Peppers, diced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place vegetables on a 15 x 10-inch baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with seasonings. Toss well and distribute evenly over pan. Roast, stirring or shaking vegetables every 15 minutes, until tender and evenly browned, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. While vegetables are roasting, prepare the pasta al dente according to package directions without fat or salt. Drain and toss with pesto. Add Bell pepper and roasted vegetables. Toss gently. Divide between warmed shallow serving bowls. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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