Rooted in the New Year: The Symbolism of Roasting Root Vegetables

Published January 5, 2014 by Susan Woodward

A Gift to My Friends

Root vegetables are known for their hardiness through the winter months; may they remind us to remain hardy when times get tough and cold.

Cover the bottom of a large roasting pan (I use a lasagna pan) with Olive Oil.  This is to remind us to not allow things to stick and burn, but to slide off our backs in the coming year.  Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees to remind us to prepare in advance.  Waiting to turn the oven on after the dish has been prepared wastes time and energy.

Wash and cut into generous chunks (I use a lot of each to fill a giant pan because leftovers are amazing):

Waxed turnip– the waxy outer layer is removed to remind us to let go of things that “build up” and weigh us down.

White potatoes– Potatoes are probably the most plentiful vegetable and the staple of most of our meals when growing up (before “meat and potatoes” went out of fashion).  May they remind us of those times with family now gone who were the staple of our young lives.

Carrots– their high energy orange color in a bed of neutral-colored veggies like potatoes and turnip remind us to stand up and stand out.  They also are high in vitamin A which is for good sight: may we see clearly in the coming year.

Parsnips– they look like the carrot in every way but their color, which is to remind us that color does not make one better than another; just different in our own wonderful way.  Parsnip and carrot to not taste alike, but one will never know that unless they have experienced both.

Beets– the rich color of the beet reminds us to appreciate the richness of the things rooted in our lives: family and friends. 

Beet Greens– the greens remind us of how wonderful it is to break through any barriers to reach toward the sun and grow. 

Grape tomatoes– not only do the tiny tomatoes add color, but they remind us to remember to include those who are different from us; vegetables are complimented with the sweetness of fruits.

Onions- their many layers remind us that we, too, are multi-layered.  Even though the outer skin may get dark and crusty from exposure to the elements, beneath that outer skin are myriad layers waiting to be discovered.

Place all in roasting pan and coat with Olive Oil (add more to coat them well).  Olive Oil was once considered only for the wealthy; may we share in the wealth of this world but with only the amount we truly need.  The most pleasant tasting vegetables are not drowning in oil.


Coarse Sea Salt- this is not finely ground, but left in its rougher state to remind us not to let ourselves be pummeled and ground to a fraction of what we once were.

Rosemary- “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you, love, remember” (Shakespeare, Hamlet, IV, v).   The Bard said it all (and I included a theatre reference!).

Sage- this herb symbolizes wisdom and longevity.  Like the hardy root vegetables are known for their longevity through the harshest season, may we experience longevity of wisdom.


Cover roasting pan tightly with heavy duty foil.  This shiny blanket, like the shiny newness of the year, will seal in the heat and allow them to cook evenly.  May we experience evenness in the New Year.

Place the sealed pan in a pre-heated hot oven (400 degrees) for about 45 minutes.  The high heat will create steam within a half hour and the other time will ensure that each vegetable has a heated center.  Then lower temperature to 350 for about two hours.  This “cooling down” period allows them to cook fully as well as the flavors to meld.  This reminds us that the “cool down” after a “highly heated” situation will yield greater results.  If the vegetables were cooked in their entirety at the high temperature, there would be unevenness, especially as those on the bottom of the pan would have gotten burnt.  May this remind us not to burn one another.

This recipe makes more than enough to share.

I love you all.

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