Add Extra Root Vegetables To Upgrade Bland Mashed Potatoes

While mashed potatoes may arguably be the greatest comfort food of all time, like many familiar dishes, they can be a bit boring and bland. If you've taken great care to build the rest of your meal with layered, complex flavors, there's no reason to neglect the humble bowl of mashed potatoes that accompany your main course.

You could opt for flavor-packed, high-fat additions like bacon and cheese to add interest to your mashed potatoes, but there's a healthier, more sophisticated strategy for elevating mashed potatoes: root vegetables. Adding extra root vegetables to your mashed side doesn't require a bunch of additional work in the kitchen; simply cube up your root veggie of choice, then cook and mash it along with your potatoes. The payoff is in the complexity of your dish — harmonious layers that bring notes of sweetness, earth, and spice to an otherwise boring bowl of mashed potatoes. And the best part? There are so many delicious options among root vegetables, all ready and waiting to play a supporting role in your dish.

Which root vegetables play well with mashed potatoes?

Think there's no benefit to amping up simple mashed potatoes? Celeb chefs disagree. Anne Burrell elevates mashed potatoes by adding celery root, also known as celeriac. It adds a vibrant, herbal note to mashed potatoes that beautifully balances all the richness. And Alex Guarnaschelli blends everything from rutabagas to turnips into her mashed potatoes, not only adding layers of flavor but also lightening the carb load from starchy potatoes.

Really, any root vegetable can complement mashed potatoes. Parsnips can add a delightful earthy note. Carrots add sweetness and a vibrant color to your mashed potatoes. Sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes, give your ordinary mashed potatoes a nutty richness. Even beets can feature in mashed potatoes; golden beets add a sunny hue, along with the characteristic earthy sweetness that takes a bland side dish to new heights.

Once you've selected your root vegetable to enhance your boring mashed potatoes, a good rule of thumb is to start with about a 1:4 ratio of root veggies to potatoes. The addition of a small amount of celery root, rutabaga, turnips, or other gifts from the earth will add complexity without overwhelming your dish. It's still comfort food, after all, just a more imaginative version.