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From the Ground Up

The cold, dark winter months are the ideal time to explore the versatility of humble root vegetables.

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PART OF THE ALLURE of vegetables is how they change— both in look and taste—throughout the year. In Copenhagen, where I live, seasons vary greatly. Summers are met with near constant sunshine, while winters are harsh. This variation has a strong influence on the intensity of flavor in our produce. A carrot in spring is small and crisp, tender and juicy, best eaten raw, while a carrot in fall is burly, coarse, and sweet. It has spent months in the ground, perhaps battered a bit by the weather, its sugars concentrated. This is the time to accentuate its inherent sweetness in a soup or puree, or roasted in the oven.

In my kitchen, I let the seasons dictate my cooking, and when fall and winter arrive, I reach for root vegetables. They can withstand little sunlight and the freezing temperatures characteristic of Nordic winters, and they can even remain in the ground until they’re ready for harvest, becoming all the more sweet for it. These rhythms— seasonal and everyday—inform my cooking at home.

These recipes celebrate four root vegetables—sunchokes, celeriac, beets, and carrots—that Nordic kitchens rely on, especially during the colder months. Whether turned into a silken, earthy soup, salt-roasted until tender, or made into a vibrant dip, root vegetables may be humble, but they offer endless creativity.

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