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It was my first Hopewell Farm carrot that hooked me. I had moved to Bellingham that fall, and bought a two-pound bag of carrots at the farmers market. Sure, they have carrots in Texas — the Lone Star State I hail from — but not carrots like this. The perfect crunch, the earthy sweetness told a story my senses had not yet experienced. Before long, I was buying up five-pound bags of carrots to whip into pureed carrot soup and freezing it for the cool months ahead. Nine years later, I’ve made a few more discoveries. From carrots to beets, potatoes to parsnips, root vegetables of all kinds are now a staple on my fall and winter shopping list. And the list goes on: rutabagas, turnips, celery root, Jerusalem artichokes…

Root veggies are not only grounding and nourishing, but versatile to use in daily meals like blended soups, salads and casseroles. And this month, root vegetables are the Harvest of the Month for Whatcom County — you’ll see them featured on local school menus, local restaurants, grocers and farmers markets.

This holiday season, celebrate your roots, and find a new favorite — or three.

ROASTED ROOTS

The quintessential piece of a Pacific Northwest fall or winter meal. Stock up on long-lasting roots and roast up pans of hearty and sweet winter roots at the beginning of the week to use for snacking, side dishes, on salads, in soups, on sandwiches and even as pizza toppings!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 medium beets, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch cubes (Hopewell Farm)
  • 8 carrots, chopped in half lengthwise (Sumas River Farm)
  • 4 medium potatoes (any variety will do), chopped into 1 1/2-inch chunks (Twin Cedars Farm)
  • 1 red onion, chopped into 1.5-inch chunks (Cedarville Farm)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Drizzle two baking sheets with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Assemble chopped root vegetables onto baking sheets.
  4. Drizzle once more with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Cook at 400 for 25 minutes, then swap the trays (placing the baking sheet below on the top rack, and top rack sheet down to the lower rack). Cook an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven.

BEET CAPRESE

Some of you may remember eating a dish like this at The Table by Bellingham Pasta Company when they were in downtown Bellingham. This was a favorite of mine, and my attempt to re-create this dish — perfect for a holiday appetizer or savory side dish, all featuring local ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 medium beets, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (Hopewell Farm)
  • 4 oz. chevre or goat cheese (Gothberg Farm)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped finely
  • 3 medium shallot bulbs, chopped (Slanted Sun Farm)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. wildflower honey (BeeWorks Farm)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Optional but delicious addition: balsamic reduction

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Assemble steamer basket in pot with 2 inches of water, and steam beets on high for 15 minutes, or until they can be pierced with a fork.
  2. In the meantime, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan. Add the chopped shallots and sea salt and cook until caramelized.
  3. Place caramelized shallots in a food processor or blender along with . cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Blend until mostly smooth. Taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
  4. Assemble the dish by spreading a layer of the shallot puree on the base of the plate. Next add the steamed beet cubes. Sprinkle with goat cheese and fresh basil. Optional: drizzle with balsamic reduction.
"This holiday season, celebrate your roots, and find a new favorite — or three."