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ROOT VEGETABLES

Listed below are some root vegetables used in Finnish cooking and in the recipes of this site. Some of them may be relatively unknown or less used outside Europe, especially on the American continent.

Root vegetables are very nutritious, and also being affordable, they should be used more often in cooking. Some of them may be peeled before cooking (rutabagas, celery roots, parsnips, beetroots), after cooking (beetroots, potatoes), or just scrubbed clean if they are very young and fresh (new potatoes, carrots, turnips).

See also:


Almond potato
(Solanum tuberosum)

Puikula potatoes Almond potatoes are a special northern variety of potatoes grown in the Nordic countries. The Finnish variety, called Lapin Puikula, has been cultivated for centuries in Lapland, northern Finland. Almond potatoes are harvested late in the autumn.

Along with the Italian Parma ham, the French Camembert cheese, the Greek Kalamata olives, etc, the product name Lapin Puikula has been granted the Protected Designation of Origin-label, the "PDO", which is given by the European Union to regional foods in order to protect them from any usurpation or imitation.

The Lapin Puikula is a floury potato variety. Its tubers are small, long-oval, curved and pointed, with a beautiful yellow-coloured flesh. It has a delicious buttery taste. Lapin Puikula is much used in traditional Lapland cooking, for example served along with reindeer stew.

Outside Scandinavia, the Lapin Puikula may be available under the name "Yellow Finn". If this potato is not available, you can instead use the "Yukon gold" potatoes or other similar varieties, although they are not quite the same thing . . .



Rutabaga
(Brassica napus)

Rutabaga

Rutabaga, also called swede, is a cross between cabbage and turnip, developed in the Nordic countries. Cultivated for centuries in Finland, it eventually replaced the turnip as the most important cultivated vegetable of the early 19th century.

Rutabaga is still commonly used in Finnish cooking, where its sweet flavour is appreciated. It can be eaten raw, grated in salads, or used in stews, casseroles, soups and broths. One of the most popular classic Christmas dishes in Finland is the rutabaga casserole.

 
Turnip
(Brassica rapa var. rapifera)

Turnips

Turnip is probably the oldest cultivated vegetable in Finland. It was a very important source of nutrition before the introduction of potato to Europe.

Nowadays the turnip has made a comeback to Finnish cuisine. It can be used raw, grated in salads, cooked in stews or baked slowly, either in oven or buried in hot embers, until sweet and succulent and served with butter.


Parsnip
(Pastinaca sativa)

Parsnips

Parsnip has a nutty, slightly sharp flavour. Seldom eaten raw, it is mainly used as a flavouring ingredient in broths, soups and stews.

It is also good when used in meat or vegetable casseroles or slowly roasted in oven together with other root vegetables.

Celery root
(Apium graveolens var. rapaceum)

Celery roots

Celery root, also called celeriac, is used in soups, stews, casseroles, gratins and vegetable patties. Parboiling softens its somewhat strong flavour, but it is also often used raw in salads, either cubed or grated. One classic celery dish is the Waldorf salad.

Stalk celery

Stalk celery (Apium graveolens var. dulce, in picture above), grown for its leafy stems, is another variety of celery.


Beetroot
(Beta vulgaris var. conditiva)

Beetroots

In Finland, the red beet is commonly used pickled, marinated, boiled or baked, added to salads, hamburger mixes, terrines, stews, casseroles and soups. The flesh of the beet is ruby red and it stains easily.

There are also white beets, brightly coloured yellow beets and red-and-white striped beets available, used in similar way. Red beet is an important ingredient in the classic Finnish Christmas dish, the mixed beetroot salad.

Fodder beet (Beta vulgaris var. rapacea, B. v. var. alba), used to feed livestock, and sugar beet (Beta vulgaris var. altissima), used to produce sugar, are another varieties of beets.

See recipes for creamy beetroot salads and pickled beetroots.

Jerusalem artichoke
(Helianthus tuberosus)

Jerusalem artichokes

The Jerusalem artichoke, also called sunchoke, is native to North America, from where it was introduced to Europe in the mid-16th century.

Jerusalem artichoke grows tubers which may be very irregular in shape, making them laborious to peel. They have a delicate, sweet flavour and can be used to make soups, stews, purees and casseroles or used instead of potatoes.

Jerusalem artichokes

In picture above: a purple-skinned, smoother variety of Jerusalem artichoke.


Turnip-rooted parsley
(Petroselinum crispum var. tuberosum)

Turnip-rooted parsleys

Also called root parsley and Hamburg parsley, turnip-rooted parsley has white, tubular roots, resembling a carrot or a salsify. The roots are used to flavour broths and soups or added to root vegetable casseroles, purees, etc.

The flavour of turnip-rooted parsley is somewhat similar to parsnip (see above), and the vegetable is usually used in the same way.

Read more about parsley here.

Black salsify
(Scorzonera hispanica)

Black salsifies

Also known as scorzonera and oyster plant, black salsify is native to central and southern Europe. The plant has a long and thin, tapering root with blackish brown skin and creamy white flesh. The root is between 10 to 50 centimetres long. When peeled, black salsify should be used right away, since its flesh blackens quickly on contact with air.

Black salsify has a subtle, sweet flavour. It can be used in soups, stews and purees, or served peeled and boiled, dressed in melted butter, cream or béchamel sauce.


Radish
(Raphanus sativus)

Radishes

The small, red-skinned radish has a crisp and juicy, creamy white flesh, sometimes having a slightly peppery taste. It is usually eaten raw, accompanied with a pat of butter, or added to salads and sandwiches. It may also be cooked or marinated.

There are many varieties of radishes, differing in size, shape, colour and taste, from milder to more pungent (see right). The milder tasting varieties are most often eaten raw.

See a recipe for Russian radish and green onion salad.

Black radish
(Raphanus sativus var. niger)

Black radish

Black radish is a winter radish with a more pungent taste than the common red radish (see left). That is why it is usually salted and drained or cooked before eating. Black radish has a white, firm flesh covered with blackish skin. Old, large-sized radishes tend to be spongy and have an inferior taste.

Daikon (Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus), also known as white radish, oriental radish, Chinese radish or Japanese radish, is another variety of winter radish (see the picture below). It is a large, carrot-shaped root and usually has a white skin, but some varieties may also be black, green or pink. Its flesh is white and mild tasting. It may be eaten raw, marinated, pickled or cooked.

Daikon radish

See a recipe for Japanese marinated daikon salad.


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