Root Vegetable Pilaf

This fun recipe uses on of my favorite techniques—salt-baking vegetables (check out my recipe for salt-roasted beets)—to create a pilaf out of root vegetables. It works great as a side vegetable, or also as a nice, hearty substitute for a starch like potatoes or rice. 

By Brandon Foster, Executive Chef

  • 1 large celery root, rinsed
  • 1 large turnip, rinsed
  • 1 large gold beet, rinsed
  • 2 carrots, rinsed
  • *be sure not to peel any of the above vegetables until after they’re cooked*
  • 2 Cups egg whites (a carton of egg whites is helpful here so you don’t end up with a bunch of leftover yolks)
  • 8 Cups kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp onions, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 Cup butter
  • Fresh herbs (your choice!)
  • kosher salt, black pepper, and lemon juice, to taste.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the egg whites and kosher salt in a mixing bowl and mix to form a paste. The consistency should be similar to wet sand.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Pack each vegetable individually in the salt/egg white mixture, coating so it is completely encrusted in the salt. Place each coated veggie on the sheet tray, arranging them towards the middle of the tray as the egg whites and salt will expand as they cook.

Bake at 400 degrees for one to one and a half hours, or until the vegetables are fork tender. (To check, use a mallet or the handle of a knife to crack the salt crust around the veggies, then stick a paring knife in it to test. If it’s not tender yet simply replace the cracked pieces of salt crust and put it back in the oven.)

Once the veggies are done, crack the salt crust and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel each vegetable. Let them cool all the way, then dice as small as you’re comfortable with.

Put a medium-sized saute pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Let it warm up, then add the canola oil and diced vegetables. Mix well and saute for one minute, then fold in the minced onion and garlic.

Stir the veggies until the garlic is fragrant, then add the chicken stock to the pan. Add the butter, then let the sauce simmer until all the liquid has almost completely cooked out.

Finish with fresh herbs and season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.


Chef Brandon FosterBrandon Foster began his life in the kitchen at the Best Western in Frisco, Colorado almost 18 years ago. His passion for ingredients and drive to learn technique led him down the mountain to Denver, where he worked in two of Denver’s most fondly remembered restaurants, The Fourth Story and Mel’s. He joined the crew at Vesta in 2005 as a line cook and became executive chef in 2010, focusing on getting back to the roots of cooking through charcuterie and seasonal ingredients. Ultimately, Chef Brandon’s career highlights centered on events like Plates for the Peak, Invest in Kids, and James Beard Foundation dinners where he could play a role in helping people in need- a passion that led him to Project Angel Heart in 2016. Outside of the kitchen, Chef Brandon enjoys spending time skiing, camping, golfing, and eating with his wife Larissa and their three kids.