Working Root Vegetables Onto the Menu

Root vegetables are having a revolution. Underutilized varieties are just bursting with potential to invigorate your entrees. Beets, Jerusalem artichokes and rutabagas started trending in winter 2015 and opened the door for their often overlooked relatives: celery root, kohlrabi and daikon. When working a new root vegetable onto the menu, think of dishes that are enticing and extraordinary, and give them a trial run by way of daily specials to assess their feasibility.

Seasonal Vegetables

Let the seasons decide when you should work new root vegetables onto the menu. Common root vegetables like carrots, potatoes and onions are always in supply, but they're at their peak from autumn through spring. You might have to look beyond your usual purveyors and source in-season root vegetables from local farmers markets. It's the best way to ensure you get first pick of the freshest produce, an effort your guests will appreciate.

Purées and Soups

Ease root vegetables onto the menu with purées and soups. Whether rustic or refined, you can make a puréed soup in about 30 minutes using a high-capacity Vitamix XL machine. Made for commercial use, it has a 4.2 horsepower motor made for puréeing tough, winter-hardy root vegetables in up to 1 1/2-gallon batches. A prep cook can have 24 8-ounce servings of curried carrot soup ready for service in less than 30 minutes with that kind of power. 

Root-vegetable purées are nothing new so they might need a shake-up. Go with a few less common choices for your next midweek special and gauge your diners' delight. Pan-fried cauliflower "steaks" served over roasted celery-root purée, or a puréed mélange of roasted jicama, kohlrabi and carrots, can add a much-needed lift to a midweek sales lull.

Root-Vegetable Sauces

Emulsion sauces contrast rustic, textured root vegetables with polished smoothness, adding refinement to their rusticity. The Vita-Prep 3 produces stable emulsions like aioli and avocado hollandaise – two sauces that pair exceptionally well with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and baked heirloom radishes. The blender has a 64-ounce capacity – that's 128 1-Tablespoon servings of sauce – and a removable lid plug. The plug lets you add ingredients and drizzle in oil for emulsions on the fly.

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