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Root for Breakfast

Root for Breakfast

Make traditional morning dishes pop with beets, rutabagas, sweet potatoes and more.

Come winter, root vegetables appear everywhere. Beets, rutabagas, turnips, celeriac, sweet potatoes and more take the place of robust greens available all spring and summer and help warm up dishes in the colder months. The beauty of root vegetables is in their versatility and while many people think they’re meant for dinner, you can also sneak them into breakfast dishes to make mornings pop.

“As the weather begins to cool down, I like to get away from cooking ‘lighter fare items’ and transition into cooking foods that will warm you up, especially early in the morning,” says chef Read Wolfe from Coastal Provisions at Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, S.C. “This time of year, I lean toward roasting or braising vegetables, but you have to be careful not to overcook them.”

Wolfe likes to combine a hearty mix of root vegetables like turnips and sweet potatoes, sautéed with turnip greens and duck confit for a quick hash that’s served with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.

Lee Wolen, chef/partner at Chicago’s Michelin-starred Boka and Somerset restaurants, enjoys using sweet potatoes for their simultaneous sweet and savory aspects and thinks sautéed or fried sunchokes make for a great breakfast side dish.

“A nice root vegetable skillet with poached or fried eggs on top is a great option as well as a breakfast burrito filled with sweet potatoes and parsnips,” Wolen says. “Root vegetables make for more of an interesting breakfast, and they are healthier than your normal fried potato side.”

At Farm in Bluffton, S.C., chef Brandon Carter recently launched a “meat and three”-style brunch that includes a savory root vegetable side dish comprising roasted carrots with a carrot top chimichurri (mint, cilantro, chili, garlic, shallot olive oil and vinegar), smoked yogurt and sumac.

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Cream-poached eggs with artichokes, chanterelle mushrooms and leek puree topped with crispy fennel – Brennan's | New Orleans

Meanwhile, at classic New Orleans restaurant Brennan’s, chef Slade Rushing offers cream-poached eggs with artichokes, chanterelle mushrooms and leek puree topped with crispy fennel, which adds a bit of licorice flavor and texture to the dish.

“Root vegetables can be used to mimic meat textures to inspire vegetarian dishes,” Rushing explains. “They are extremely versatile and have a depth of flavor no other vegetables can imitate.”

So, when you think you only have potatoes as a breakfast option, start offering your guests something more colorful, more robust and more versatile. You’ll have more fun cooking, and they’ll walk away with a newfound appreciation of
root vegetables.

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