Get back into your roots-root vegetables that is. With the fall season into full swing heading rapidly into winter, I have cravings for those all-American, slow-cooked cooked meals filled with simple, classic root vegetables. Some of my favorite root vegetables include turnips, rutabaga, and carrots. Turnips, a bittersweet vegetable high in Vitamin C and K, are similar to rutabaga, a vegetable that began as a cross between turnips and cabbage. A sweeter flavor comes from the rutabaga with an almost identical texture to the turnip but it is slightly more colorful than the almost white turnip. My most favorite of root vegetables is the carrot. Carrots, filled with Vitamin A and beta carotene, are sweet enough to be a treat and get richer and sweeter the longer they are cooked.
In this dish, I also add Brussels sprouts, which are not a root vegetable, but I like the bright green color in the mix with the orange and yellow colors, as well as the flavor and texture of the sprout along with the sweetness of the root vegetables. Brussels sprouts, a member of the cabbage family, are densely packed with vitamins, especially Vitamin C. These flavorful vegetables get a bad rap but I encourage you to forget all that you have heard and just give the Brussels sprouts a chance. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
This perfect fall weeknight meal is simple, comforting and nutritious, and all cooked in just one pot. After finding that I still had a gift card to Williams-Sonoma, I picked out a 2-1/2 quart red Le Creuset cast iron enameled pot. I christened this pot with this meal. This kind of pot or dutch oven is the ideal vessel for this dinner but if you don’t have that then any kind of covered baking dish will work as well.
Lizzy M.’s Chicken with Roots and Sprouts
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
Dash of crushed red pepper
1 cup turnips, largely diced
1 cup rutabaga, largely diced
1 cup carrots, largely diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 cup Brussels sprouts, each cut in half (remove stem from the bottom)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock or broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (For a generous portion use 1 chicken breast per person, and for smaller portions use 1 chicken breast for 2 people.)
2-3 green onions, diced for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large dutch oven pot, heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil with a dash of crushed red pepper on medium to high heat. Once heated, add the chopped onions, turnips, rutabaga, and carrots. Stir well to coat in the olive oil. Season the vegetables while sauteing with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves and nutmeg. Stir well, cover and cook for 7-10 minutes. Next, add the grated garlic and Brussels sprouts. Cook for 2 minutes before adding the Dijon mustard, white wine and chicken broth. Let the mixture cook for another 2 minutes. Finally, salt and pepper the chicken breasts and rest them on top of the vegetable mixture. Push the chicken down a bit, so some vegetables and liquid are covering the chicken.
Cover the oven-safe pot and transfer to the oven. Bake the chicken and vegetables for 20-30 minutes. You may need more cooking time depending upon how many chicken breasts you are cooking. For one or two, 20 minutes should be plenty of time. When ready spoon out a portion of vegetables and chicken into a bowl and garnish with green onion. Serve this healthy chicken dish with rice or orzo pasta.
Don’t be afraid to try vegetables that you don’t normally use. Exposing yourself and your families to all different kinds of vegetables is the best way to have a family of vegetable-eaters. If you start trying different foods at a young age, you are more likely to be more of an adventurous eater and cook. And if you are a parent, don’t limit your kids to only the things you like. Give them the opportunity to try everything, and let them decide for themselves.