Christmas Dinner - How to Cook Vegetables - Potatoes, Carrots, Swedes and Parsnips

How to Cook Root Vegetables Properly - Part 2 in my Series

Many people think cooking is difficult, but actually there are many quick and easy meals. Here's how to cook vegetables carrots, potatoes, swedes and parsnips, which are the accompaniment to many meals.

Once you know how to do the basics, you can move on and try more complicated meals, but you've got to start somewhere, so this page is mostly for beginners

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Equipment:

These are the things you'll need:

  • A chopping board

  • A potato peeler

  • A kitchen knife

  • A container (something like the one in the photo above) for vegetable peelings

  • A pan

Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots and Swedes are the most common root vegetables

In the colder countries of Europe, like Russia, leafy vegetables nearly all die off in the cold weather, and as these countries rely on their own seasonal produce rather than importing foodstuff, root vegetables are the staple diet for several months. Some people say this is what makes the inhabitants stocky and large-boned.

The simplest method for cooking these root vegetables is to peel and cut them up, then cover them in salted water, and boil them for twenty minutes, then drain and serve them.

This is an excellent Vegetable Steamer/Saucepan

Norpro 1 Quart Stainless Steel 3 Piece Mini Steamer Cooker Set
Norpro 1 Quart Stainless Steel 3 Piece Mini Steamer Cooker Set

I've got a set like this - very versatile, with stacking steamers, which you can also use as a colendar to strain vegetables, and, as they all fit into each other, they are good for storage

 

How Should These Root Vegetables be Cut?

  • Potato: cut them about the size of a golf ball
  • Parsnips: cut them into two or three pieces;
  • Carrots: several long strips, or large or small slices .

potatoes cut in pieces, boiling
potatoes cut in pieces, boiling | Source
carrots cut in strips, boiling
carrots cut in strips, boiling | Source

How to do Mashed Potatoes:

  • Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes
  • strain off the water
  • add quarter of a cup of milk to the potatoes in the pan, heat the milk, add a big knob of butter and mash the potatoes with a fork or masher. If you want a slightly softer conistency, add a little more milk.

Potato Masher - I use one at home similar to this one

Calphalon Nylon Utensils Potato Masher
Calphalon Nylon Utensils Potato Masher

Easy to clean, effective, cheap and dishwasher safe

 

How to Cook Roast Potatoes and Roast Parsnips:

  • Peel the potatoes and parsnips, cut the potatoes to the size of a golf ball, and the parsnips into two or three pieces;
  • boil them in salted water for about fifteen minutes (this is called par-boiling).
  • Then put them in a baking pan, and drizzle about a tablespoon of cooking oil (I always use olive oil because it's healthier) over the potatoes and parsnips, turning them over so they are completely coated lightly with oil.
  • Then put the pan on the top shelf of your oven, regulo 6 for about 30 minutes, until brown. It helps if you turn them over and baste them once or twice during cooking but this is not essential - it just ensures they are browned more evenly.

NB You can bake potatoes and parsnips without first par-boiling them, but they are much nicer when you boil them first, because it fluffs them up and makes them absorb more of the fat, so they are crispy but not hard.

Roast Potatoes and Roast Parsnips

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How to Cook Baked Potatoes or Jacket Potatoes

  • Use large potatoes. Wash and scrub the whole potatoes , and put them in the oven regulo 6 (Medium) for about 40 minutes.
  • If you don't like the skins too tough, wrap them in silver metal foil for about 30 minutes, and just undo the foil for the last 10 minutes to dry off the steam.

A quicker method is to pierce the potatoes in several places with a pointed knife or fork and then heat them in a microwave oven for eight minutes.

NB: It is important to pierce them, because otherwise they will explode all over the oven and make an awful mess.

  • Check to see if they are completely cooked by poking a knife in. If the potatoes are fully cooked, they will be soft all the way through, but if they still need to be cooked a minute or two longer, they will feel slightly resistant to the knife. When cooked in a microwave, the potato skins are slightly soft and soggy because of the steam, so you might like to pop them in the oven for about ten minutes to toughen up the skins.
  • When cooked, cut open the potatoes lengthways, and add a blob of butter and salt and pepper to taste. They are also very tasty with a sprinkling of grated cheese on the top, or topped with minced meat. As you have washed the skins, you can eat everything, skin and all.

Onion, Cabbage, Swede and Squash

Source

How to Cook Mashed Swede

  • Cut off as much swede as you need from a whole swede, peel it with a potato peeler or sharp knife, and then cut it into small cubes - about 1"- 2" . It neds to be cut into small pieces because, as Swede is a very hard vegetable, and it would otherwise take a lot longer to cook.
  • Boil the swede in salted water for twenty minutes

Take This Poll About Potatoes

How do You Like Your Potatoes?

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Now Let's Get Really Silly - One Potato, Two Potatoes, Three Potatoes, Four - on Sesame Street

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Please Add Your Comments - I love to hear from people - Has this helped you to learn how to cook vegetables? 2 comments

LauraGT profile image

LauraGT 4 years ago from MA

Thanks for this article. I discover new ways to cook vegetables every day and they are always so yummy!


Magdaleine profile image

Magdaleine 4 years ago

will try the rosted potato.. great article.

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