GOD-DESS

Simple! Sensible! Sensational!®

October 2003
© 2003 by Bret S. Beall

WOW! The air is crisp, the harvest is in, and I have one thing on my mind: roasted vegetables! Now, you know from my April 2003 column (http://www.god-dess.com/services_recipesApril03.html) in which I featured roasted asparagus and/or green onions, that I’m eager to enjoy those intensified flavors any time of year. Visit that link if you find some late harvest asparagus or green onions, but meanwhile, take advantage of the autumn harvest with the following easy techniques for roasting and using a variety of root vegetables, and tomatoes, and beets (though also a root vegetable, they require special treatment).

EASY ROASTED VEGETABLES

These crispy vegetables are terrific by themselves, as a side dish, tossed with pasta (be sure to use the cooked pasta to wipe up the flavored olive oil in the cooking tray!), or added to a fresh green salad or a bowl of cooked rice, or as a “hash” with breakfast eggs, or rolled into a tortilla with or without scrambled eggs (plus some grated cheese). The choices are endless! Combine them with some of the other roasted vegetables in this section.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss or stir to coat vegetables with oil and seasonings. Transfer vegetables to a large cooking sheet so that they form a single layer. Cook in center of oven for 45 minutes to one hour, stirring and turning every 15 to 20 minutes.

Variations:

Prior to roasting, make any or all of the following changes:

1. Add 1 t to 1 T of chopped dried whole herbs (rosemary and/or thyme are especially good)

2. Add peeled and quartered onions to the vegetable mixture (leave the root end intact, trimming only the loose end pieces, so that the quarters remain intact … for a while, anyway!). Onions do tend to caramelize more quickly, so you might want to add them halfway into the roasting process.

3. Add loose cloves of garlic to the mixture (still in the skin); the cloves will actually become crispy and sweet. Alternatively, put a head or two or three of garlic in aluminum foil (cutting off the tops of the heads is optional, as is drizzling with olive oil and sprinkling with salt), seal the foil, and roast alongside the tray of other vegetables; when roasted, squeeze the garlic into the veggie tray and mix to allow the essence of garlic to merge with the other veggies (the soft roasted garlic will also make the veggie mixture into a creamy pasta sauce when a little water is added).

4. Add 1 to 2 T of lemon juice (half or whole lemon), or other citrus juice, or red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar.

5. Substitute melted duck fat, goose fat or bacon drippings for the olive oil. The duck and goose fat will add a real Provencal effect.

Applications:

Side Dish: just serve roasted veggies in a bowl or on a platter, perhaps with some roasted red pepper strips, or chopped olives, or caramelized onions on top of them, with a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar, or citrus juice, if you didn’t use them to roast the vegetables.

Pasta sauce: These vegetables are roasted in bite-sized pieces, making it simple to toss them with pasta (1/2 c veggies per ¼ lb pasta, using the pasta to soak up the oil in the roasting tray before mixing with the veggies), along with some optional roasted red peppers (1/4 c) and some toasted walnuts or pine nuts (2 T), and some grated cheese (to taste). By the way, the proportions are completely discretionary.

Salad: I make lots of salads, as you know from reading previous columns of Simple! Sensible! Sensational!® recipes. I love to adorn a simple salad with roasted potatoes and other veggies (a mesclun salad with potatoes roasted in duck fat is amazing!).

Quiche: these roasted vegetables are terrific in a quiche. Blind bake a standard 9” pie shell, place ¼ c grated cheese in the bottom after cooking, add 1 c of the chopped vegetables, add 3 to 4 eggs beaten with ¼ to ½ c milk or cream (with ½ t salt and about 15 grinds of pepper), and top with another ½ c grated cheese. Bake at 350° F for about 1 hour; test with a knife: if it comes out cleanly, the quiche is done. Serve with a green salad for lunch or dinner, or simply solo for breakfast. I will discuss quiches and frittatas in greater detail in a future column.

ROASTED TOMATOES

We hear a lot about sun-dried tomatoes, but not too much about Roasted Tomatoes. Then, when you see a recipe for Roasted Tomatoes, it is usually for a low temperature (often 300 degrees), for a long time (up to 2 hours), and when you try it, the flavors are indeed more concentrated, but they don’t really exhibit any special characteristics from the roasting, plus you’ve used a lot of energy unnecessarily. With this recipe, you KNOW you’re eating Roasted Tomatoes, and you’ll be happy about it!

I have not given proportions because the technique is open to too many variables depending on how “heavy-handed” the cook is with the olive oil, salt and pepper (but that’s okay; just don’t waste the juices in the pan!). The only downside to this recipe is that at this temperature, some of the juices will caramelize or even burn on the bottle of the baking sheet, skillet or casserole dish, but with a bit of soaking and some scrubbing with nylon mesh (please see http://www.god-dess.com/webhintsMar03.html for details) and baking powder, the pots will clean up very well.

By the way, these roasted tomatoes freeze really well (just pile them into a freezer container, without any other treatment); I served some that I had frozen in several months earlier to some guests in a salad, and they had no idea that the tomatoes had been frozen!

Tomatoes, halved (split Roma, grape and pear tomatoes longitudinally; split cherry tomatoes and “regular” tomatoes equatorially/horizontally; consider trying some smaller heirloom varieties for a very colorful final product).

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Arrange the tomato halves as close to each other on a baking sheet, oven-proof skillet or casserole. With your thumb over the top of the olive oil bottle, drizzle a thin stream over each of the halves (because the oil conducts heat and help the tomatoes to cook, I like to use my fingers to even the oil over the cut halves). Sprinkle a little bit of salt over all of the tomato halves. Grind fresh pepper over the halves. Top each half with a small bit of cheese (if using). Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven, and roast for 35 minutes (for cherries, grapes and small pear tomatoes) to 45 minutes (for small Romas and “regular” tomatoes) to an hour and 15 minutes (for large Romas and large “regular” tomatoes”), using a spatula to shift their positions every 15 minutes or so. The skins will become crispy which is part of their deliciousness (a nice textural change). These tomatoes, especially when roasted with bleu cheese, make a great side dish, hot, warm or cold (when the cheese is used, just add a half or two or three to a basic green salad, and you have a mini masterpiece).

Applications:

Roasted Vegetable Ragout: Please see September’s column at http://www.god-dess.com/services_recipesSeptember03.html for proportions, now that you have the technique for roasting all of the components (except for the bell peppers, so you’ll just have to contact me if you need those instructions).

Simple Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce: Simpler than the ragout! Per serving, mix ½ c chopped roasted tomatoes, 1 c young arugula or spinach (torn into bite size pieces), up to 1 T toasted pine nuts (or your favorite nut), 1 T olive oil, 1 t balsamic or wine vinegar or lemon juice or wine (optional) in an individual pasta bowl (or serving bowl, if making more than one serving). Add ¼ lb cooked pasta per serving and about 2 T pasta cooking water per serving. Stir to distribute the sauce evenly, and add some grated hard cheese if desired. One t minced or chiffonaded fresh mint or basil can also be added if desired.

Roasted Tomato Salad: Per serving, use ¼ c chopped roasted tomatoes, 1 T olive oil, 1 t vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1.5 to 2 c torn lettuce or spinach or young arugula. Toss and serve.

ROASTED BEETS

These beets are sweet and earthy at the same time. Because beets stain everything they touch, handle them carefully. At this time, beets are available in a variety of colors (red, pink, white, golden, striped [chioggia]), so for a surprising effect, roast several of these varieties and serve them together.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole beets on a sheet of aluminum foil (standard width, about 18” long). Drizzle olive oil over beets, and sprinkle with salt (is using). Fold foil over beets to totally enclose them and crimp edges to form a seal. Place directly on the oven rack, or in an oven-proof dish, and bake for 1 to 1.5 hours (depending on the size of the beets; a knife inserted in the beets should slide in without resistance). Remove from oven when beets are tender, allow to cool slightly, and peel and discard skin. These beets can now be used in a variety of applications.

Applications:

Beet Salad: allow the beets to cool completely. Slice the beets horizontally, and arrange on a platter. Dress with a simple vinaigrette (3 parts olive oil [or brown butter], 1 part sour or vinegar, especially balsamic, which is delicious with beets, but also red wine vinegar or lemon juice; use 1 T oil to 1 t vinegar for each serving). A small sprinkle of salt and pepper will bring out the flavors of the beets. Optionally, top with toasted nuts (walnuts are the best, but pine nuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds are also good choices) and/or artisanal cheese (I prefer any bleu, such as Danish bleu or gorgonzola, but chevre is also terrific, as are the double/triple cream cheeses like brie or camembert or Cambozola).

Beet Salad with Greens: Follow the instructions for above Beet Salad, but separately dress any tender greens that you enjoy (mixed baby lettuces, romaine, leaf lettuce, spinach, even mustard greens). When serving the beets with greens, another choice is to cube the beets and sprinkle them over the dressed greens.

Roasted Beets as a side dish: use the same dressing as for the salad, but apply it to cubed beets while they are still warm. Alternatively, replace the olive oil with butter.

Roasted beets, although they are cooked separately, can be served with other roasted vegetables (they are especially good with roasted garlic) as a topping on pasta, rice, in a tortilla or as a breakfast hash.

Now you have some of my favorite autumnal recipes. They are great for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Wonderful for appetizer, soup and entrée courses. Delicious hot, warm or cold, fresh out of the oven or leftover from the night before (or before that!). Except for roasted garlic and roasted bell peppers (and roasted chiles), the other roasted veggies don’t freeze particularly well (although quiche made from roasted veggies freezes excellently, and is a lifesaver for a quick breakfast, luncheon or first course at dinner). The techniques are similar for all of the roasted veggies (by now, you know I believe in standardization!), so learn the techniques, and put them into practice … TODAY!

 

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