A few weeks ago, I had that most wonderful of treats: Thanksgiving Leftovers. And while the standard Turkey + Stuffing + Gravy sandwich was, as always, super-delectable, I was in the mood to get more creative. With my eye on the fridge — and on the nutrition facts — I concocted this Superfood Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Kale, and Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette. It’s a warm salad that can also be served cold or at room temperature, and works particularly well with leftovers of Mom’s Sweet Potatoes and Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce.
I recently had lunch with two good friends and their adorable 2 year-old daughter. We were munching on dim sum at a local Chinese restaurant (fun fact: 2 year-olds are highly intrigued by food in bundles and traveling carts full of appetizers. Makes me feel like I’m doing a good job of appeasing my inner child, given that I love both of those things!), and the couple mentioned that they had recently joined a CSA.
For those who think that sounds like a New Deal program or a branch of the Secret Service, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. When you join a CSA (which is regional, often organized through individual farms or your city / county), you essentially buy a weekly share in a local farm’s produce harvest for a given year. Your share supports the farmer’s work and livelihood, and it also results in you receiving a big ol’ delivery of whatever produce happens to be in season.
Once upon a time, GKG decided to put together a hand-written-slash-scrapbook-style recipe book with an old journal. (The consequence of being someone who enjoys writing — lovely and well-intentioned friends and family tend to gift you with journals. While I like to think my life is fairly interesting, it certainly can’t fill 5-10 journals a year!) The above picture is one page of clips that I’ve cut, arranged and taped / pasted into the journal’s pages, but I’ve also hand-written some of my own recipes and family favorites (pasta sauce being one of them!) in various “chapters.”
With the advent of fall (yup, still excited about it, and will be until winter comes crawling), I always get in the mood for that caramelized, tender-crisp and buttery flavor of roasted vegetables. While fall specifically tends to make me crave root veggies — roasted sweet potatoes, squashes, parsnips and more — the simple technique of roasting veggies is clutch for any budding chef to master.
Here are the simplest steps for successful veggie roasting:
- Cut or trim veggies into semi-uniform pieces (for even cooking time)
- Coat lightly with salt, pepper and olive oil
- Spread veggies onto a baking sheet, and roast at 425 degrees for 10-30 minutes, or until the veggies have caramelized (browned with natural sugars) and are cooked to your liking.
That’s it! The process brings out so much of each veggie’s natural flavor while infusing them with the earthy olive oil and piquant salt & pepper combo. As Adam Roberts, a.k.a. the Amateur Gourmet, says of his take on Ina Garten’s roasted broccoli, “If parents made this broccoli for their kids, kids wouldn’t hate broccoli. They’d beg for it.”
Veg-roasting is also a killer way to stretch a dollar — pick up one sweet potato & one parsnip, slice & prepare as noted above, and boom. You have more than enough food to create a satisfying side dish for two or more, and for minimal cost. In the spirit of Jessie J, I suppose “it’s not about the money, money, money” — but saving a little never hurts!
A few of my favorite roasted veggie options:
- Asparagus with Tomatoes (seen above): Trim asparagus by holding both ends and “bending” the stalks — they’ll naturally break at the proper point. Toss with cherry or diced tomatoes and olive oil, salt & pepper. Roast as noted above for 10-15 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of lemon juice. Mmm!
- Root Veggies: Slice sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga and red onion into steak fry-size pieces. Coat with olive oil and a drizzle of maple syrup (thanks, Gwyneth! Seriously — what would I do without your book?); roast for 30 mins to 1 hour, or until veggies have caramelized and cooked to your liking.
- Broccoli: For a take on Ina’s heavenly broccoli, coat broccoli florets with olive oil, adding salt & pepper to taste. Roast for 20-25 mins with 4 or 5 peeled garlic cloves. After the broccoli florets are done, toss with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and toasted pine nuts. Consume mass quantities, coneheads.
Do y’all roast veggies in fall and winter? What are your favorites? How about some meat-and-veggie parings: Which roasted veggies to you like with your protein? Happy eating!