Now that it’s finally starting to cool off in the Lowcountry, my family is craving comfort food for dinner. Slow-cooked stews, roasted chicken, and hearty soups are finally back on the menu. With kids in the house, mashed potatoes are more than welcome on the dinner table. But if you’d like to put a healthier side dish on the table, you should try making a medley of Mashed Root Vegetables with your next meal. I’d love to share one of my favorite recipes with you, along with tips for making it lump-free each time. It might even make it to your Thanksgiving table!
Mashed Root Vegetables are an easy way to sneak some extra nutrients onto the dinner table. There’s no end to the combinations. I always start with about half potatoes, usually either russet or sweet, or even both. Russet potatoes are best for mashed potatoes because they stay fluffy. Save the waxy potatoes, like red and yukon gold, for roasting. And you can use any sweet potato you like. There are even white sweet potatoes, so you can keep the color as close to regular mashed potatoes as possible for those extra-picky eaters! The potatoes will cook faster than the other root vegetables, so just cut those in quarters if using large potatoes.
For the other half of the mash, you have quite a few options. Carrots are always a convenient choice since you probably have some in your fridge already. Choose whole carrots (as opposed to ‘baby carrots‘) for the best flavor and texture. Parsnips are also a good choice, with a mild, sweet flavor. I’m a huge fan of celery root, also called celeriac, in my mash. The knobby root is ugly, but has a wonderful, almost nutty flavor. Rutabagas and turnips are also easily mashed, but I would urge you to use these as no more than one-quarter of the mixture, as they can be a bit bitter. Nothing turns kids off faster than bitter flavors. These root vegetables take longer to cook than potatoes, so cut them into smaller pieces so they can all cook in the same pot.
Even though they aren’t technically root vegetables, winter squash is also a tasty addition to this recipe. If you don’t want to bother cutting these up, most grocery stores carry pre-diced butternut squash. They work great in the mashed root vegetables medley.
Of course, you can use that metal, wavy masher in your drawer. But, for the smoothest mixture, you should invest in a potato ricer. It is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I even take it with me to cook for my weekly clients. Basically, it looks like a huge garlic press. You put the cooked vegetables in the basket and press to push them through the small holes. It’s easy to clean and you’ll never have lumpy potatoes again. And the best part? You don’t have to peel the vegetables! Just put the vegetable in cut side down, and the skin stays behind.
To season the mixture, I like to add a little bit of garlic into the boiling pot for added flavor. Once you rice the potatoes, you’ll need some butter as well as salt and pepper. And no need for milk! I use the cooking water, as needed, to keep the mash moist and flavorful. Once you have the basics down, you can get creative. It’s nice to add freshly chopped parsley and chives, sour cream, grated cheese, or even goat cheese. It all depends on what else is on the menu, and of course, how adventurous the kids are at the table!
I can’t wait to make these mashed root vegetables for our Thanksgiving feast. You can make them a few days ahead and they reheat beautifully. Plus, it’s one vegetable that I know that my one-year-old Pete will eat! I hope you enjoy the recipe and please don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comments!
Mashed Root Vegetables
serves 6-8 people
2 large potatoes, sweet or russet, cut in half
4 cups other root vegetables*, scrubbed clean and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 small cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sour cream or goat cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh herbs (optional)
- Place the cut vegetables in a large stock pot. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by 1 inch.
- Bring the vegetables to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Meanwhile place the butter in a medium mixing bowl.
- Simmer until the vegetables are easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the heat. Do not discard the cooking water.
- Working about 1 cup at a time, place the cooked vegetables in the ricer, skin side up.
- Rice the vegetables into the bowl with the butter.
- Stir the vegetables together with the butter.
- Stir in sour cream or goat cheese, if using.
- Add the cooking water if needed to make a smooth, moist mixture. You may not need any additional water.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with fresh herbs before serving.
* You can use any of the following: winter squash, parsnips, celeriac, rutabagas, turnips, carrots, sunchokes or beets.