Saturday, September 7, 2013

Easy Roasted Veggies

I don't know what it is about roasting, but vegetables come out of that oven a totally different breed than by any other cooking method. We've yet to find a vegetable (save, perhaps, for lettuce and spinach and the like) that can't be roasted successfully. Mixtures are nice, but so are single vegetable dishes. A couple of weeks ago, we had a lovely assortment of veggies from the Colvins that practically begged to be roasted: fennel, summer squash, tomatoes bell peppers (see the picture below)--I tossed the whole mixture with a balsamic vinaigrette that had fresh basil (also from the Colvins) in it, but the simple method listed below works a base no matter what else you plan to do with them. This week, we got more summer squash and some bell peppers in our CSA box, and I added a carrot, sweet potato, and a couple of white potatoes into the mix. Mmmmm

What can you do with roasted vegetables, besides use them as a side dish? Top a pre-baked pizza crust with them, add a little cheese, and pop back in the oven briefly. Toss them, cold, with some greens and salad dressings. Add them to a wrap. Mix them with some rice and add some extra seasoning/salsa/salad dressing. You get the picture. Possibilities are nearly endless.

Easy Roasted Veggies--basic method

Assortment of prepared vegetables*
Olive oil
salt and pepper or other seasoning blend (we've used Herbes de Provence, Cajun seasoning, Adobo/Fajita seasoning, Paula Deen's House Seasoning, ....)

Alternately, you can just use a vinaigrette--homemade or storebought--instead of the oil and seasonings.

Toss prepared vegetables with oil and seasonings. Spread out on a jelly roll pan; you may need two pans if you roast a lot of vegetables at once. They don't need to be in a single layer, but you also don't want them piled too high. If you're roasting tomatoes, keep them separate from the big mixture and roast them at the end of the pan in their own area. They will release lots of juice--which is delicious--but you might not want the whole mixture to taste like tomatoes.

Roast at 400-450 degrees until tender. Vague, huh? That's because the temperature and time are both flexible (do you want them done sooner? use a higher temperature and chop them smaller. Have a roast in the oven at 400 degrees? Use that temperature and go with it.). Roasted vegetables don't have to be piping hot to be enjoyed. As long as the harder vegetables (potatoes, carrots) are in small bite-size chunks, you're looking at about 20-30 minutes. Stir every 5-10 minutes, depending on oven temperature and size of vegetable chunks.

*Vegetable Preparation:

Peel vegetables like sweet potatoes, winter squash, and any other vegetable you might normally peel before eating (except for garlic). Cut all veggies into appropriate sized pieces, remembering that vegetables like summer squash and tomatoes will cook faster than vegetables like sweet potatoes. If you're roasting a mixture, cut up harder vegetables into smaller pieces (you'll notice that my sweet potatoes in the picture above are cut fairly thin). For vegetables like green beans, you may want to blanch them first.

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