The Forks blog

Getting back to my roots

Written by Mary Miller on


A friend and I attended the Nov. 2 lunch and talk at the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District featuring Pittsburgh-raised, Portland, Ore.-based cookbook author Diane Morgan, author of the new “Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes.” We learned about Ms. Morgan’s research for the book and she introduced us to a new world of unfamiliar roots such as crosnes, scorzonera and galangal.

Like a beautiful dictionary on root veggies, it’s not just a cookbook, but the kind of book that makes you want to sit, blankie-covered, with a cup of tea and slowly page through the stunning photos and varied recipes. Lunch included a creamy but cream-free turnip soup and a raw beet slaw (pictured above, in not-so-great light), and an apple and rutabaga tart served with homemade ginger ale.

The food, carefully prepared by Kevin Costa of Crested Duck Charcuterie, was really good and made me start thinking out of the box about using root vegetables. Sweet potatoes don’t have to have marshmallows on the top!

I already have a fondness for root veggies, tossing parsnips into my chicken stock, roasting sweet potatoes until the cows come home, and eating every beet salad in the ’Burgh, but the choices are so much more varied. As most of us are trying to eat more locally, so what could be better than getting back to our roots?

Here’s the recipe for that slaw from the book and the lunch. I loved it. I really am obsessed with beets.

Mary Miller’s blog is The Fork and the Road.


“I like to use a mandoline to cut the beets into matchsticks,” Diane Morgan writes. “ A sharp chef’s knife works well, too. With all this fine cutting, you’ll have rosy red hands if you don’t wear disposable surgical gloves ...”

For the dressing
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For the salad
1 medium red beet, 3 to 5 ounces, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into matchsticks
1/2 medium crisp tart apples such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup firmly packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, orange zest, honey, salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, toss together the beet, fennel, apple and parsley. Add the dressing and mix gently to coat all of the ingredients evenly. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, then remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. (The slaw can be made up to 8 hours in advance.)

Serves 4 to 6.

— “Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes” by Diane Morgan (Chronicle, Oct. 2012, $40)

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