Back to Our Roots

When the earth rests, create warm, rustic meals from the hearty, nutritious roots it left behind.

STORY AND RECIPES BY DANIELLE KARTES
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL KARTES

Winter is a time of reflection. The earth has fallen asleep but has left us plenty of hearty, nutrient-dense roots to eat until spring brings a thaw and well-rested ground. These recipes celebrate these humble roots and create a rustic meal that warms the bones. Cider pork tenderloin with apples and onions alongside a leek and sweet potato gratin round out a comforting meal, complete with celery root and white bean soup. And a bright, crunchy olive and cranberry kale salad offers a much-needed bit of acidity, with mandarin juice and briny olives in the dressing.

Cider Pork Tenderloin with Apples & Onions

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes | Active cooking time: 15 minutes
Inactive cooking time: 15 minutes | Total cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 teaspoons oil, suitable for searing
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste 
  • 1 medium-sized red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium-sized tart apple, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 sprigs lemon thyme
  • 1/4 cup apple cider

Recipe

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a cast iron skillet, melt butter and oil over medium to medium-high heat. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper and brown 2–3 minutes per side, until the entire surface of the meat is golden brown. Remove the meat and add onions, apples, and lemon thyme.

Sauté 3–4 minutes, until the onions and apples begin to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with cider and reduce 2–3 minutes. Set the tenderloin on top of the apples, onions, and thyme and place the entire pan in the oven to roast 10–15 minutes, or until an internal meat thermometer reads 155°F. The meat’s internal temperature will rise to 160°F after it’s been removed from the oven.

Slice pork on a bias and serve with jus from the pan and caramelized vegetables.

Leek & Sweet Potato Gratin

Serves: 4 heartily
Prep time: 20–30 minutes | Inactive baking time: 35 minutes

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium-sized rutabagas, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chopped leeks
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cream Sauce

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons grated parmesan

Bread Crumb Topping

  • 2 cups country bread, chopped and torn into crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350°F. Set a 9-by-9 baking dish or extra-large pie plate aside. A variety of pan sizes may be used, but if you choose a 9-by-13, reduce the cooking time by 5–10 minutes.

In a large, high-sided skillet, heat oil and water over medium heat. Cook the potato, rutabagas, and leeks until tender and water has evaporated completely, about 10 minutes. The leeks will begin to caramelize once the water is gone. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to baking dish.

In the same skillet, melt cream cheese over medium heat. Add cream, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Sprinkle flour over the top of the hot cream and whisk vigorously to prevent lumps. Continue stirring until sauce has thickened and is velvety smooth. Add grated cheese and, once melted, pour sauce over the cooked vegetables. Top with fresh bread crumbs and melted butter. Bake uncovered 30–40 minutes. Once finished baking, top with remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and serve hot.

Celery Root & White Bean Soup

Serves: 4
Cook time: 60 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 3 cups celery root (1 large or 2 medium roots), peeled and chopped
  • 1 large sweet white onion, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 32 ounces chicken stock, fresh or store-bought 
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Garnish

  • 2 cups torn bread, toasted in 2 tablespoons melted butter on the stovetop

Recipe

This soup requires very little in the way of preparation. Heat a large soup pot or heavy-bottom stock pot to medium/medium-high heat. Sauté vegetables in olive oil until color begins to develop on onions and roots. Add beans. Season with salt and pepper, and cover with stock and water. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until beans begin to fall apart and roots are fork tender. Using a stick blender, purée in short bursts for only 1 minute to leave some texture in the soup. Finish with heavy cream and serve hot with buttered toast or buttered bread crumbs.

Olive & Cranberry Kale Salad

Serves: 4-6
Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed (about 6 cups) (We chose lacinato or dinosaur kale.)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup blanched, toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup green olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. This salad benefits from over-mixing. I choose to add the salad dressing ingredients directly to the kale and mix it thoroughly to tenderize the kale. The salad keeps beautifully for a full day in the fridge.

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