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Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Peasant Fare at Its Best: Irish Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe

By Vicki McClure Davidson


There are so many recipes for roasted root vegetables - these two photos show the diversity of the dish. | Photo credits: wittlz and onenjen, Flickr, Creative Commons

There are so many recipes for roasted root vegetables - these two photos show the diversity of the dish. | Photo credits: wittlz and onenjen, Flickr, Creative Commons


The Irish have always been a frugal people — they've had to be. Economic crises, potato blights... Ireland has suffered and survived for centuries. Creative Irish homemakers learned how to stretch and use every speck and morsel of food to feed their families, and in so doing, have created many easy, cheap-to-make and nutritious family recipes. Nothing was wasted in an Irish kitchen... nothing.

Some while back, I came across an old Irish recipe for roasted root vegetables. This is peasant fare at its very best. My daughter (now a vegetarian) and I now make it often because we love it so much. We sometimes modify the ingredients and herbs based on what is on hand in the pantry and our mood. The low-cost recipe provided below, however, is how we make it the most often.

Sometimes we'll add whole garlic cloves towards the end of the baking session. Sometimes chunks of bell pepper, shredded radicchio, cauliflower, tomatoes, celery, or mushrooms (also toward the end of the baking session) are added to the root vegetable batch. If you're adding more fragile ingredients that don't have the density of the root vegetables, add them to the root vegetable batch as they roast during the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking. Other vegetables, such as beets, yams, Brussels sprouts, squash, celery root, broccoli, or jicama, can also be added, if you want. You can choose to cut the vegetables, or if they are fairly similar in size, not cut them.

The flavors of roasted root vegetables, commingling together, are amazing. High temperatures cause the natural sugars in the veggies to caramelize, intensifying and sweetening the flavors. Fabulous flavor that costs so little.

The vegetables we've listed here are all root vegetables, but you can be creative. This is a thrift-minded way to use up vegetables in the fridge that are past their prime.

Two things we've learned must always be constant with this dish, however: high heat and lots of onions. The high temperature is an imperative for the vegetables to roast and caramelize properly. Lower temperatures will indeed cook the vegetables, but not roast them quite as well.

The other constant is the addition of lots of onions... without the onions, this simple peasant dish just isn't the same. I've added diced scallions at the beginning of the baking, and they burned into tiny, hideous cinders. Scallions can be added, but at the END of baking.

Lots of big, hearty chunks of make-you-weep onions are the key to elevating the best flavors in this dish. As the vegetables roast, the aroma of roasted onions filling the kitchen and other parts of the house is mouth-watering.

The only vegetable I peel in this recipe is the rutabaga. The outer skin is particularly tough and woody, and I personally don't like the texture in my mouth. But with the potatoes, onions, turnips, carrots, and parsnips, I leave the skin on for additional vitamins. Your call whether to peel or not. Leaving the potato peels on adds to fiber and earthy flavor.

I believe in the original old Irish recipe, animal lard was used. Some type of fat is necessary to prevent the vegetables from drying out and becoming rock hard. I've changed the original recipe to use olive oil per the request of my vegetarian daughter, but have made it with other oils with equal success. I've also made it with just potatoes and onions. Fingerling potatoes (I've not found these delicious little oddities at the supermarket, just at the farmers market) are excellent for this dish. If you use fingerling potatoes, no cutting or cubing is necessary — they are the perfect size to use as is. Be sure to pierce them one or two times to prevent a messy explosion. They roast up beautifully. This is one of my husband and son's favorite ways to have potatoes.

If you use baby turnips instead of full-size turnips, no cutting is necessary. If you want to add Brussels sprouts, cut them in half lengthwise.

Be aware that the vegetables (especially the onions) will start to blacken and singe in areas. This is what you want, so don't panic if the dish looks burned to you. A bit of burn here and there is good, as this is where the roasted flavor is intensified.

This recipe makes a big batch. You can cut it in half, if desired.


Old Irish Recipe - Roasted Root Vegetables


Wash and prep all the vegetables in advance. Preheat oven to 450 deg. F.

Use a large metal baking pan with raised 1-in. side. Line pan with aluminum foil to keep vegetables from sticking to pan (makes cleanup much easier).

Drizzle 1/4 cup of the olive oil onto the foil in pan. Add the cut vegetables to the pan.

Pour remaining 1/2 cup of the olive oil directly over vegetables.

Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl, then sprinkle dry ingredients over vegetables. Use your hands to mix them up, making sure that all vegetables are covered evenly with olive oil and herbs/spices.

Put in oven, uncovered, at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.

Check veggies every 10 to 15 minutes, stirring them with a wooden spoon to mix those in the center to outer edges. This helps with uniform roasting while keeping the vegetables on the outer edges from burning badly.

After 45 minutes, take out of oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 12 (depending on if roasted vegetables are served as main dish or a side dish)




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