Wednesday, October 21, 2009
My Venture into Roasted Veggies
I haven't met a vegetable I didn't like. Well, maybe a couple. I love roasting vegetables in the fall when many squash and root vegetables are at their finest. To be honest, I don't make this dish the same way twice. I pick out whatever veggies look good that day, throw on some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper and let 'em roast away. Sometimes, I add cipollini onions, boiler onions, or shallots. Other times I throw in Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, garlic, eggplant, peas, corn, green beans, turnips, beets – whatever's in-season, sounds good, or is on sale. The important thing is for you to choose vegetables that you and your family like to eat.
Even after I stopped being a vegetarian, I fixed this dish all of the time because it is so good. Kids love it because the vegetables are sweeter when roasted. At your next dinner party, you can serve this as an appetizer, a side dish, or even as the main course.
One time when I was in Asia, I was eating lunch with my friend Manny in the Taipei Airport. At the time, I was a vegetarian so I opted for a salad since everything else on the menu appeared to contain meat in some form or another. Manny is not an adventurous eater and ordered a hamburger and fries. The waiter took our order and we gabbed up a storm while we awaited our food. Manny is from Rhode Island and has the best sense of humor. He's a great guy and I appreciate his straightforwardness – a characteristic not shared by many of us who live in the Midwest. During the conversation, Manny dryly asked in his pronounced East-Coast accent, "Vince, don't take dis da wrong way but how does a vegetawiun become so LAHGE?" His question cracked me up but it's a good question. Many vegetarians are emaciated, little things but that's not always true. When you think about it, vegetarian mammals tend to be large. Elephants, hippos, rhinos, horses, cows, and many other large animals eat primarily vegetarian diets -- and they ain't skinny! Being a vegetarian doesn't automatically guarantee that you're going to be a size 2 by Christmas. After all, you could be a vegetarian and still consume a ton of calories from french fries, donuts, cake, Doritos, candy, garlic bread, soda pop, etc. – all of which contain no meat but a lot of calories, fat, and carbs.
Whether you're an omnivore or vegetarian, young or old, thick or thin, you're going to love this wonderful dish. Enjoy –and happy roasting!
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1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 to 3 medium potatoes (preferable Yukon Gold or Red Bliss), peeled and cut into 3/4" chunks
1 cup or so of baby carrots (cut in half or leave whole)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tsp sugar (optional but nice)
1 TBSP dried, chopped rosemary
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Liberal amount of salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of asparagus, fibrous ends removed and remaining pieces cut into thirds
1 large onion, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1" chunks
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Crusty Bread or Bread Bowls
Place oven racks in the top third and bottom third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 425F. Coat the inside of two rimmed sheet pans with some olive oil.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the longer-cooking veggies and toss to combine. Split the veggies between the two sheet pans. Bake 20 minutes, switching the sheet pans between the top and bottom racks halfway through the cooking time.
Right before the 20 minutes is up, combine the quicker-cooking ingredients. After the longer-cooking veggies have been in the oven for 20 minutes, take the sheet pans out of the oven and stir the veggies – using a spatula as needed to scrape up any that may have stuck to the pans. Add half of the quicker-cooking veggies to each sheet pan, toss again, and return to the oven for another 18 to 23 minutes (switching the pans halfway through) or until the veggies are as soft as you like. During baking, if the veggies look a little dry, add additional olive oil as needed.
Before serving, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. If desired, toss with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve in bread bowls or with crusty bread.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 6:04 AM