Does seasonal produce actually suit the season, or are we so accustomed to, say, root vegetables in winter that we wouldn’t think of using them in summer (even if they are now available all year round)? Whatever the answer, I can’t think of anything more delicious in the long, dark evenings than a plateful of chunky, crispy, sweet nodules of parsnip, carrot, celeriac and beetroot. Fine by itself for vegetarians, or good with roast pork, sausages or a slow-cooked lamb shank.
The root vegetables are best dirty from the field, or from the farm shop. It’s amazing how much sweeter their carrots are. This is a dish that can be warmed up for a second meal, so do double what you think you want.
6 good-sized carrots
6 beetroots the size of a tennis ball
4 medium potatoes
4 medium onions
4tbsp olive oil
Thyme, salt and pepper
Optional: sweet potatoes, turnips
Peel and cut all the vegetables into same-size chunks and put them into a large roasting tin. Drizzle them with olive oil and turn all the chunks to cover them, strew the thyme over them, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put them in a hot oven (200˚C) for 15 minutes or, if you have an Aga, in the bottom, slow oven for at least 1½ hours (longer, up to three hours, is even better). Alternatively, if you have an ordinary oven, roast them for 45 minutes to an hour on medium heat, as you would roast potatoes. Turn them every 20 minutes.