By Alaina Sullivan
Roots are the gemstones of the vegetable clan. Unearthed from the soil they appear knobby and inedible, but pare away the tough exterior and you’ll uncover valuable flesh.
Grating transforms the roots from dense to delicate and readies them for a quick skillet stir-fry. Celeriac flesh shreds easily; sweet potato takes a little more elbow grease. With the beets, I opted to thinly slice rather than shred them to change up the texture a bit. I worked in three batches so that every ingredient would have a cheek against the hot skillet. As the beets cooked to an al dente tender-crisp, the shredded potatoes and celeriac became browned and soft.
More flavorful than some of their milder cousins, the sweet potatoes and beets contribute two levels of sweetness, and the celeriac an intense taste of celery. All three take very well to curry. A showering of fresh cilantro (something from above the ground) brightens up the roots at the very end. Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express.
Root Vegetable Stir-fry
Use a food processor or box grater to shred a pound or so of one or more root vegetables: waxy potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery root, rutabaga, alone or in combination. Squeeze the shreds dry with your hands. Put a thin layer of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s super hot, add a layer of the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir-fry without stirring two much so that the shreds brown a bit and clump together. When the vegetables are just tender, season with curry or five-spice powder; stir a couple of times, remove to a serving plate, and repeat in batches with the remaining vegetables. Garnish with chopped cilantro or scallions and serve.