Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Roasted Vegetables

Red-orange root vegetable 02
Golden Beets
photo by Joe Mabel

Here is another very simple way to get your veggies--roast 'em.

I first began to roast lots of vegetables when I became a personal chef. It is an excellent way to prepare veggies ahead of time and is the best for freezing.

This method of preparing vegetables is often overlooked by home cooks. But, the roasting does something wonderful to just about any vegetable. And, it couldn't be easier.

Here's the basic method; we'll use broccoli as an example:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Chop a large broccoli bunch into bite-sized pieces.

3. Toss pieces onto a paper towel to absorb any rinse water (very important! you don't want watery veggies) and place them in a dry bowl.

4. Stir in a small drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh-ground pepper.

5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and dump the broccoli onto the sheet, spreading evenly. It is very important that the vegetable pieces have enough room--do not cram them onto the baking sheet or they will steam rather than roast.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes and check. If the broccoli is cooked to your satisfaction, remove it. If not, cook a few minutes longer. Broccoli will be golden brown where the veggie has met the pan.

Anytime you roast vegetables, watch them closely. If cooked too long they will turn limp and mushy--if roasted longer, they will incinerate.

Here are some other ideas:

*radishes (yes! they are great poppers)

*green beans, just squeeze a little lemon juice over all when finished. Or, mix them with roasted mushrooms and shallots.

*asparagus (same as above with the lemon)

*new potatoes (these take longer--I like to leave them unpeeled and quarter them, mix with whole garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper; cover with foil or make a foil packet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour) fingerling or baby potatoes can be left uncut and prepared in the same manner.

*Beets are incredible when roasted, but remember to roast the red ones separately because their color runs. Pink rutabagas are not very appealing, trust me. Leave 1 inch of greens on the tops of the beets, scrub and do not peel; proceed with olive oil, salt and pepper and cover with foil or make a foil packet and bake for 45 minutes if you have large beets. For smaller, fresher, in-season beets, check at 20 minutes. Peel before serving--these are delicious warm, at room temp or chilled.

*A mixture of root vegetables such as carrots, onions, parsnips, turnips--all chopped to equal size. If you first render a slice or two of good bacon on the baking sheet, then mix the veggies with a little olive oil and proceed as above, the flavor is fabulous.

*Brussel's sprouts apparently are very good when roasted. I cannot tolerate them, though, so I have to take others' word for it.

*Roasting tomatoes gives them a mellow flavor, delicious in sauces and salsas.

*Broccoli is one of my favorites, and you can roast it along with cauliflower and carrots. This dish beats the heck out of those frozen vegetable packages.

*Veggies can be roasted with your favorite fresh herbs; mixed roasted vegetables are especially delicious with a balsamic vinaigrette.

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