I used to work in my family's restaurant and helped run it. I love good food, and I've cooked family meals for over 60 years.
Many people think cooking is difficult, but actually there are many quick and easy meals. Here's how to cook vegetables like carrots, potatoes, swedes and parsnips, which go well with many meals.
Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots and Swedes Are the Most Common Root Vegetables
In the colder countries of Europe, like Russia, leafy vegetables nearly all die off in the cold weather, and as these countries rely on their own seasonal produce rather than importing foodstuff, root vegetables are the staple diet for several months. Some people say this is what makes the inhabitants stocky and large-boned.
The simplest method for cooking these root vegetables is to peel and cut them up, cover them in salted water, boil them for twenty minutes, then drain and serve them.
These are the things you'll need:
- A chopping board
- A potato peeler
- A kitchen knife
- A container (something like the one in the photo above) for vegetable peelings
- A pan
How Should These Root Vegetables Be Cut?
- Potato: Cut them about the size of a golf ball.
- Parsnips: Cut them into two or three pieces.
- Carrots: Cut them into several long strips, or large or small slices.
- Swedes: Cut them into small pieces.
How to Cook Mashed Potatoes
- Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes.
- Strain off the water.
- Add 1/4 cup of milk to the potatoes in the pan, heat the milk, add a big knob of butter and mash the potatoes with a fork or masher. If you want a slightly softer consistency, add a little more milk.
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How to Cook Roast Potatoes and Roast Parsnips
- Peel the potatoes and parsnips, cut the potatoes to the size of a golf ball, and cut the parsnips into two or three pieces.
- Boil them in salted water for about 15 minutes (this is called par-boiling).
- Put them in a baking pan, and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (I always use olive oil because it's healthier) over the potatoes and parsnips, turning them over so they are completely coated lightly with oil.
- Then put the pan on the top shelf of your oven at regulo 6 (medium) for about 30 minutes, until brown. It helps if you turn them over and baste them once or twice during cooking, but this is not essential—it just ensures they are browned more evenly.
NB: You can bake potatoes and parsnips without first par-boiling them, but they are much nicer when you boil them first. It fluffs them up and makes them absorb more of the fat, so they are crispy but not hard.
How to Cook Baked Potatoes or Jacket Potatoes
- Use large potatoes. Wash and scrub the whole potatoes, and put them in the oven regulo 6 (Medium) for about 40 minutes. NB: It is important to pierce the potatoes, because otherwise they will explode all over the oven and make an awful mess.
- If you don't like the skins too tough, wrap them in silver metal foil for about 30 minutes, and just undo the foil for the last 10 minutes to dry off the steam.
- Check to see if they are completely cooked by poking a knife in. If the potatoes are fully cooked, they will be soft all the way through, but if they still need to be cooked a minute or two longer, they will feel slightly resistant to the knife.
- When cooked, cut open the potatoes lengthways, and add a blob of butter and salt and pepper to taste. They are also very tasty with a sprinkling of grated cheese on the top, or topped with minced meat. As you have washed the skins, you can eat everything, skin and all.
Using a Microwave
A quicker method is to pierce the potatoes in several places with a pointed knife or fork and then heat them in a microwave oven for 8 minutes.
When cooked in a microwave, the potato skins are slightly soft and soggy because of the steam, so you might like to pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes to toughen up the skins.
How to Cook Mashed Swede
- Cut off as much swede as you need from a whole swede, peel it with a potato peeler or sharp knife, and then cut it into small cubes—about 1 to 2 inches. It needs to be cut into small pieces because a swede is a very hard vegetable, and it would otherwise take a lot longer to cook.
- Boil the swede in salted water for 20 minutes.
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