• Time: 15 minutes prep, 45 minutes cooking, 60 minutes total

This basic approach will accommodate just about any combination of root vegetables and/or potatoes, including parsnips, carrots, parsley root, and celery root. More strongly flavored vegetables such as rutabagas or turnips are best in combination with sweeter ones like parsnips.

Be sure to rinse the starch off potatoes with cold running water and drain well.


  • 2 pounds root vegetables cut into 1/2-inch dice, slices or wedges, or yellow or red potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters or sixths to make 1-inch thick wedges, rinsed well to remove their starch

  • 4 or 5 medium shallots, thinly sliced crosswise

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, unsalted butter or rendered bacon or pancetta fat

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or coarsely chopped rosemary spikes (or 1 teaspoon dried)

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parley


1. Combine the vegetables, shallot, wine, olive oil, thyme, salt and sugar in a large nonstick skillet. Bring to a simmer over low heat.

2. Cover, and cook, rearranging the vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and the liquid has almost evaporated, 40 to 45 minutes.

3. Uncover the pan. If there is any liquid remaining, increase the heat slightly and cook, shaking the vegetables, until the liquid is completely evaporated and the vegetables are glazed. If desired, drizzle with a little olive oil and toss with parsley before serving.

Excerpted from The Improvisational Cook. Copyright 2006 by Sally Schneider. Used by permission of William Morrow/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Sally Schneider
A former chef, Sally Schneider has won numerous awards—including four James Beard awards—for her books and magazine writing. She is creator of the lifestyle blog Improvised Life, a featured blogger on The Atlantic Monthly's Food Blog, and author of The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook. She has served as a contributing editor to both Saveur and Food & Wine, and her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Saveur, Food & Wine, SELF and Connoisseur.