Roasty-Toasty

I love the foods of fall: warm, soothing soups; hearty stews, and satisfying, meaty roasts.  As much as I like summer’s salads, my heart is gladdest in the fall, when I’m inclined to stick-to-your ribs comfort foods.  Always, on the side, are roasted root vegetables: whatever you have lying around, it works.

Roasted root vegetables are a really simple thing to make (so much so that I almost hesitated to post this recipe) but the results are always satisfying. I think I get most of my vegetable consumption from September to March, when I regularly indulge in slow-roasted, caramelized goodness. You can too:

My pan of roasted vegetables always includes the following:

5-6 waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges

5-6 carrots, peeled, quartered and sliced into 3-inch lengths

5-6  parsnips, peeled, quartered and sliced into 3-inch lengths

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled, trimmed and cut into quarters.  For added crispness, toss the sweet potato wedges in a bit of corn starch and add them to the vegetable mix just before it goes into the oven

1/2  head of garlic, cloves separated and smashed

1 medium onion, sliced ( I like big pieces of onion; feel free to cut them smaller but keep in mind that they may burn before the rest of the veggies are cooked)

2-3 golden or candy cane beets, peeled and quartered.

These are suggested amounts and vegetables, but as long as all of your vegetables are cut to about the same size, feel free to substitute what you’ve got on hand (suddenly, I’m channeling the Urban Peasant, but it’s true: use what you’ve got!) and play around with the proportions.

To prepare, prep all of the vegetables as suggested above and throw them into a big mixing bowl. Coat them with at least 1/4 cup of good olive oil, with salt and pepper to taste. Add a couple of sprigs of rosemary if that’s your preference (it’s not mine). Roast in a 400 degree F (200 degree C) oven on baking sheets for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until your vegetables are fork tender and have taken on a nice browned, carmelized sheen.

The most important thing here is to not crowd your vegetables, otherwise they steam rather than roast and you won’t get those nice crispy bits that are so satisfying. You may need to split the vegetables between two baking sheets; if so, be sure to rotate them in the oven about half-way through the cooking time.

And that’s it. Not only do these make an excellent accompaniment to roast beef, roast chicken or a side of barbequed salmon, they’re also good topped with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and a slice of warm goat cheese (take one log of goat cheese, slice into coins, drizzle with flour (I use coconut as it’s gluten-free) and sear in a hot pan with a bit of olive oil).

They also make a lovely salad, cooled and tossed with some baby greens, toasted hazelnuts, sliced apples and a vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar, honey and just a pinch of grainy mustard. Or, add a side of lentils cooked in Carol’s vegetable broth for a vegetarian meal.

Add vegetable stock to the leftovers and puree into a roasted vegetable soup (add a pinch of curry to the puree and broth and heat through. Add a dollop of yogurt to serve). 

Not that we have any leftovers, of course.