Saturday, January 10, 2015

Roasting: A Second Chance for Vegetables

If you have veggies that are a bit old and past their peak of loveliness, like these slightly-wrinkled cherry tomatoes...

Don't throw them out; roast them! Roasting is a great way to resurrect veggies that are past their "best-by" date. A quick lashing of olive oil and a grind or two of fresh black pepper is all that's needed before roasting.

Roast the veggies in a very hot (425 degree Fahrenheit oven); depending on what you are roasting and how small you've chopped them, your veggies will be done quickly--maybe 15 minutes or so for the softer veggies, 20 or a bit more for harder ones.

Whatever vegetable you choose, things are ready when just fork-tender, with bits of char here and there. (In the case of cherry tomatoes, I like to push them to a slightly-squooshy stage, which brings out their wonderful, natural sugars):

This method works beautifully on many other vegetables, too, like root veggies (including carrots, parsnips, and potatoes) and the cruciferous family (including cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts). Just peel your veggies (if necessary), trim off any less-than-lovely parts, and cut everything in more or less equal-sized bits so things cook at the same speed.

For Brussels sprouts, I cut them in halves (or thirds, if they are very large). You may find they require a bit more olive oil, because they soak it up like little sponges. Add a grind or three of black pepper...

...and place them on a baking sheet with a lip, with a little space around each piece. (If you crowd the pan, the veggies will steam, not roast).

If roasting several vegetables at the same time, be sure to cut the harder, denser ones in smaller pieces so they cook at roughly the same pace as the softer, less dense ones. Here's the Before on a batch of sprouts and 'maters:

And here's the After:

Yum! Before serving, add a little finishing salt--I like Maldon salt from England, because the flakes are crunchy and big enough to add a visually pretty element: 

And there you go! Roasted veggies like this are fabulous tossed into a cooked, hot pasta, added to a cold vegetable salad, stirred into soups, or even cut smaller and used as a pizza topping.

This quick and easy method is a wonderful way of salvaging vegetables that aren't perfect.

So get roasting!

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