Start the new year off right by shopping at the Santa Monica Farmers Markets. Buying local produce from the Farmers Market is the perfect way to help you stick to that healthy eating New Year’s resolution. Right now the Markets are filled with wonderful winter fruits and vegetables like cauliflower, romanesco, turnips, broccoli, and tangerines, to name a few. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new that you may have never cooked with before, like celery root or parsnips.
Celery root looks like celery on top, but has a large, tan bulbous root on the bottom. It grows the same as celery, but takes longer for the root to develop. It has the flavor of celery, but a different, chewier texture. To cook celery root, begin by peeling off the outer layer of the root with a paring knife. Also discard the leaves. You can eat celery root raw by slicing it into matchsticks and marinating them with remoulade or vinaigrette. Lightly salting the celery root first will allow it to absorb more of the dressing. Celery root is also great in soups and delicious paired with potatoes. You can steam, boil, or roast celery root as you would a potato, or mash with potatoes and garlic. Jerry Rutiz of Rutiz Farms likes to broil celery root. Preheat the broiler, slice the celery root and place on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Broil for a few minutes until the celery root browns and the sugars have caramelized.
Parsnips are also in season right now at the Farmers Market, although they are often overlooked and underrated. Parsnips look like a fat white carrot. They are a very popular vegetable in Europe, particularly Britain, where they have been grown since ancient times. Parsnips are a cool weather vegetable and usually harvested after the first frost because cold weather brings out their sweet flavor. They grow underground like a carrot. Parsnips can be cooked as you would cook a carrot. They can also be roasted, pureed and mashed. For a tasty snack you can make parsnip chips. Just cut the parsnips into thin strips and fry them. Parsnips are not just for savory recipes, either, they also pair well with sweet ingredients, too.