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Root vegetables are a great centerpiece for a winter dish. I usually find something to counteract their natural sweetness, which can become cloying and one-dimensional. Spice, in the form of

a curry or chiles, is welcome, as is some kind acid, such as wine, vinegar or lemon juice.

Canned tomatoes, which have both sweetness and acidity, seem to work well with root vegetables. Capers and olives, which add saltiness and acid, round out the flavor of root vegetables well.

This is a dish that can be made with any variety or combination of root vegetables.

I like using rough-cut carrot with the skin still on, slices of skin-on acorn squash, celery root, salsify or parsnips.

Potatoes work in this recipe, and so do sweet potatoes or butternut squash, although you have to make sure you don't overcook the latter two.

I associate winter cooking with my favorite piece of kitchen equipment, my Le Creuset Dutch oven, an enamel-coated cast iron pot that probably will be around longer than I am. There is something very comforting about using in the wintertime, especially for braises such as this one.

Serve this dish with steamed basmati rice and feel free to grate a little Parmesan on it.

Tomato Braised Root Vegetables

Serves 4

Ingredients1 quart root vegetables, cut in a large dice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced


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4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1½ cup diced canned tomatoes

1 sprig rosemary

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

pinch chile flakes

1 tablespoon capers

12 black or green olives, pitted

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the root vegetables for 3-4 minutes. Drain.

Preheat oven to 375. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the olive oil and the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, until softened.

Add the tomatoes, rosemary, chicken or vegetable broth and chile flakes. Bring to a simmer and cover. Place the pot in the oven, and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

With a skewer, check the root vegetables for doneness. They should be tender but not mushy. Remove the lid and place the pot on the stove. Add the capers and olives and cook until the stew is thick. Remove the rosemary and divide among four portions.