Be Kind to Your Veggies: Roast them
When I was a little girl, I was rather odd, which probably explains why I’m kind of odd today, but… that’s another article. And while I was odd in many ways, my most particular oddity that generated the greatest reaction from my young peers lay in the fact that I LOVED vegetables. Steamed broccoli (without cheese), supple and moist (not slimy) stewed okra, crisp cooked green beans (without bacon to cover up the fresh flavor of the beans), and raw white onion were some of my favorites.
But while I adored these delicious items, I noticed that I didn’t adore them all the time. In particular, I most often detested these palatable pleasures and just about all the other vegetables that were prepared at my school cafeteria. Even the salad bar with its trays of diced fresh vegetables seemed more tired and depressed than, well, fresh. I couldn’t understand why some of my favorite things to eat just didn’t taste right at school. What were those well-meaning lunch ladies with their curly-hair-filled-hair-nets doing to my vegetables?!
What I didn’t understand at that tender age is that preparation is key. How we treat vegetables, just like people in many ways, really affects how they treat us in return. Most foods are this way, but vegetables in particular aren’t quick to forgive wrongful acts of ill preparation. So, what’s a home cook to do? We’re told we should eat more vegetables, but if we don’t know how to treat them, and don’t like the foul-tasting consequences of ill-treated vegetables, then how do we overcome this situation?
Thankfully, there is a very simple panacea. It’s called roasting. Anyone with access to an oven, a baking sheet, a tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper can manage this practice. It’s amazing what roasting does to vegetables. The flavors melt and caramelize at the same time creating an earthy syrupiness that’s both savory and sweet and utterly delectable. Almost any vegetables can be roasted. Initially I thought one might not want to roast things like salad leaves, but while sipping my morning coffee today and perusing a cookbook, I found a recipe for roasted, quartered, heads of cabbage.
The process for roasting is simple. Here’s a recipe from Iowa State Extension:
- 5 cups assorted vegetable pieces (cut in chunks)(potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, turnips, carrots, onions, mushrooms)
- 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Heat oven to 425ºF.
- Line a 9"x13" pan with aluminum foil.
- Spread vegetables in pan. Sprinkle oil on vegetables. Stir. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, pepper, and salt. Stir.
- Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Turn every 15 minutes.
- Serve while hot.
- Video: How to Roast Vegetables
- Use thyme, basil, or rosemary in place of dried Italian seasoning.
- Save energy. Roast vegetables in oven with other food or right after other food is done.
- Roasting brings out the sweetness of vegetables.