Seasonal Roots Cheese Board
Don’t think I’ve lost my love for baguettes, but lately I’ve been exploring alternatives to bread that pair well with cheese. Yes, gluten-free mania has gotten the best of me – I love bread madly, but many people I know have forsaken it. Over the holidays, I know I’ll need to have some gluten-free weaponry, so I’ve been raiding the crisper.
This week – thanks to a winter CSA box from Philly Foodworks (more on this below) – I decided to create a glowing gluten-free cheese board with roasted carrots and parsnips in place of bread or crackers. My share, which was offered to me as a promotion, allowed me to select items from an online pantry — in addition to receiving a bounty of fall produce — so I chose to accent this board with cranberry jelly and local sauerkraut.
I knew that the acidity of these two condiments would be a good foil for the heaviness of root veggies roasted in olive oil – and by heavy, I mean dense. I also knew that the bright, slightly bitter taste of the jam and the sparkly, sour quality of the kraut would offset the overall sweet, nutty notes on the board.
And the colors! When I put this board together, I felt like I was breaking out watercolor pencils.
To turn this board into a meal, I added toasted walnuts and boiled a couple fresh farm eggs. The cheese, which came in the CSA box, worked perfectly – creamy Goot Essa sharp cheddar and a beautiful hunk of Yellow Springs goat cheese studded with peppercorns. I envisioned this as a sort of day-before-Thanksgiving cheese plate, when you want to keep nibble while you cook.
Stack the cheese on the root veggie rounds, add a spoonful of jelly or kraut, bop on a nut or a sprinkle of parsley, and you’ve got a gorgeous bite. A sunny, sparkly bite. A great gluten-free cheese hors d’oeuvre.
Seasonal Root Veggie Crisps
This makes one tray of root veggies, enough for 3 to 4 people. It is easily doubled or tripled. For best results, seek out the largest carrots and parsnips you can find so that they can be sliced into “cracker”-like discs. Although I call these “crisps,” they’re tender with crispy edges. Serve them warm from the oven or at room temperature.
2 large carrots
2 large parsnips
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Wash and dry your root veggies, then slice them thinly into discs and drop them into a big bowl. Drizzle them with oil, and add a toss of salt and fennel seeds. Stir the veggies until they’re coated with oil, then dump them onto your cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the edges of the veggies begin to brown. Use a spatula to flip them, then bake them for another 5 to 10 minutes, so that both sides are golden in color.
4. Serve on a cheese board with a hunk of Cheddar and one or two other firm cheeses (try a firm goat cheese, like Midnight Moon or Pantaleo, or pick up a gooey wheel of Harbison). You could also serve fresh ricotta or herbed chèvre.
5. Pair with nuts, cranberry jam or chutney, kraut, hardboiled eggs. You could also serve dried fruits, charcuterie, and pumpernickel bread.
About Philly Foodworks
With 25 pick-up points around the Philadelphia area, Philly Foodworks offers easy access to local foods, from dairy and produce to canned goods and coffee. Each week, you receive 4 local produce items, plus $35 worth of pantry items that you choose online. The hybrid nature of this winter CSA plan gives you freedom and a chance to explore a variety of foods from local makers. The local cheese selection is excellent, and it changes from week to week.
For readers of this blog, Philly Foodworks is offering a free one-week trial. Visit www.phillyfoodworks.com and click “free trial.” Enter your address, click pay by check (you won’t be billed), and after you’ve picked up your box you can decide if you’d like to continue.
As someone who has signed up for Winter CSA shares for the last few years, I can tell you that picking up my box is a highlight of each week. It brings life into the kitchen and never fails to introduce me to wonderful local products I might not find otherwise. Let me know if you give Philly Foodworks a try and discover any favorite cheeses.