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Back to the roots

| 09 Mar 2012 | 10:48

By Lori Marrie, Warwick Note: This column was written one week before Hurricane Irene tore through the region, destroying property and devastating lives. The impact on the farming community has been profound. Our plates may not be as full this Thanksgiving, but our hearts overflow with love and support for these resilient farmers.

Thanksgiving. It’s everyone’s favorite holiday, especially vegetarians.

After all, the spirit of this holiday is in the harvest and ours is true to the original – a celebration of fruits and vegetables. And unlike carnivores, vegetarians remain awake to enjoy dessert – no L-tryptophan in our tofurky.

Our food has a face. A face we recognize because she’s our local farmer. The vegetables she grows travel directly from her farm to our table. Our hands prepare the food, but her hands, imbedded with black dirt, tell the story.

A story rooted in this fertile soil, about planting and nourishing and feeding a community.

As my family gathers around the table, we give thanks for the bountiful harvest. The black dirt does not disappoint, once again generous with squash, winter greens and the underground gems that are the essence of our holiday dinner: root vegetables.

Roasting turnips, leeks, onions, parsnips, carrots, potatoes and winter squash brings out their natural sweetness and depth of flavor.

A surviving stalk of rosemary from my herb garden adds a fragrant element to the tubers and taproots.

Leftover roasted vegetables present a second opportunity. Puree with homemade stock, swirl in a spoonful of cashew cream and garnish with parsnip chips to create a velvety flavorful soup. The sweet aroma of Thanksgiving fills my house, but I can still smell the earthiness of its roots.

Roasted root vegetables with rosemary oil

Serves 6-8 2 leeks 3 shallots or small onions

4 carrots 2 parsnips 1 sweet potato

6 fingerling potatoes 4 small turnips

2 cups winter squash 3 Tbs. rosemary infused olive oil

1 tsp. dried thyme Spring of fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf Salt & pepper Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice all vegetables into 1 inch pieces. Place in a large bowl and coat with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Spread in roasting pan and bake 45 minutes or until tender, stirring once every 15 minutes.

Root vegetable soup with cashew cream

Serves 4-6 Roasted root vegetables

Vegetable stock Puree leftover roasted vegetables with broth until smooth and desired consistency. Swirl in 1 Tablespoon of cashew cream. (recipe follows)

Cashew cream 1 cup raw unsalted cashews

Rinse cashews with cold water and place in small bowl. Cover with water and refrigerate overnight.

Rinse well, place in blender, cover with water 1 inch above the cashews and puree several minutes until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate, use within 3 days or freeze.