Diane Morgan's Root Vegetable Cookbook

Unearth the pleasures of root-vegetable cookery

Roots–the dug-from-the-dirt underdogs of the vegetable world–are all too often bathed in butter (see: mashed potatoes) or downright creamed (hello, gratins).

Portland-based author Diane Morgan's new book, Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes ($40), teaches home cooks how to exploit the essential flavors of root vegetables without masking them in rich ingredients.

The recipes in the engaging and encyclopedic cookbook let the meaty vegetables shine in dishes like caramelized spiced carrots with honey and orange, or chicken soup with parsley roots, carrots and herbs. They, and the book's other recipes, prove that butter, cream and cheese are unnecessary accoutrements.

We tried Morgan's clean, nutritious raw beet slaw (see the recipe). Gently cloaked in a light dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, orange zest and honey, matchstick-cut beets snap alongside thin slices of fennel and tart apple, as well as a smattering of parsley.

While the bright dish satisfies on its own, it could also add crunch to a healthful sandwich.

Talk about building a meal from the ground up.

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