Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Roast for the Most

As far as prepping your vegetables to go into your soup there are at least four trains of thought…

You can either add them without cooking them first, boil or steam them, saute them, or roast them.

Roasting is perhaps your best opption because roasting caramelizes the vegetables’ natural sugars to bring out a delicious natural sweetness and helps emphasize the unique flavor of each vegetable.

Roasted vegetables can also be used as a flavorful side dish or meatless entree.

So which vegetables can you roast? And how do you do it?

Pretty much any and all vegetables can be roasted. There are no set rules as to which vegetables to roast. It’s more a matter of what you have on hand and what you discover that you like or don’t like.

Here are some of the most commonly roasted vegetables, as well as how to get the vegetables ready to be roasted and the time that you should roast them.

Always choose the best veggies for roasting that you can. The best raw veggies will obviously give you the best cooked veggies also.

Keep in mind that these may vary about five or ten minutes, depending on how small you cut your vegetables before roasting them.

Also keep in mind that green beans, broccoli, and other green-hued vegetables will turn an ugly olive green, and green beans tend to shrivel before becoming tender.

Flip the veggies half-way through baking time: Around the 20 minute mark of roasting these veggies, make sure to flip and stir the vegetables around a bit. This ensures an even roasting on ALL sides of ALL the veggies.

 

Prep

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Roasting vegetables at such a high temperature helps caramelize on the outside. If the oven temperature is too low, the vegetables will overcook before achieving the desired browning.

Wash your vegetables and pat them as dry as possible. The drier the vegetable, the better it will roast…

Slice and dice your veggies into bite-sized pieces.

More on this later, but for now two things to keep in mind..

  1. Uniform pieces cook more evenly.
  2. Smaller pieces cook more quickly.
  • Asparagus:…Wash and break off woody bases where spears snap easily. Leave spears whole or cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • Baby leeks:…Trim and halve lengthwise. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Roast at 450°F for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Beets, baby or regular:…Scrub and peel beets. Trim off stem and root ends. If desired, halve or quarter them.
  • Bell peppers:…For regular-size peppers, wash, seed, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips. For small peppers, if desired, roast whole, then remove stems and seeds.
  • Brussels Sprouts…Trim stems and remove any wilted outer leaves; wash. Cut any large sprouts in half lengthwise.
  • Carrots…Trim and peel or scrub baby carrots or regular carrots. Cut regular carrots into bite-size pieces or thin strips
  • Cauliflower:…Wash and remove leaves and woody stem. Break into florets
  • Eggplant:…Peel if desired. Quarter lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  • Fennel:…Trim stalks and cut a thin slice from the bottom of the bulb. Cut the bulb into thin wedges.
  • Onions:…Remove papery outer layer. Cut into thin wedges.
  • Parsnips:…Trim and peel parsnips. Cut into bite-size pieces or thin strips.
  • Potatoes…Whole tiny potatoes, quartered, work especially well for roasting. For larger potatoes, cut them into bite-size pieces. Peeling is not necessary, but scrub well before using.
  • Squash:…Baby zucchini can be roasted whole. Larger zucchini should be cut into bite-size pieces or slices.
  • Sweet potatoes:,..Scrub and peel. Cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Tomatoes:…Wash and halve lengthwise.
  • Zucchini…Baby zucchini can be roasted whole. Larger zucchini should be cut into bite-size pieces or slices

Once you’ve cut your vegetables down into bite-sized pieces, toss them a tablespoon or two of oil—such as olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil. I normally do this in a huge Ziploc bag.

This will help the vegetables cook more evenly, make them crispier, and add a rich flavor.

Feel free to add whatever you want to your vegetables before you roast them. This is not necessary, but a few of the things that can be added to your veggies are…

  • balsamic vinegar
  • brown sugar
  • honey
  • maple syrup
  • pomegranate syrup
  • spices—such as ginger, nutmeg, rosemary or sage

Rub the oil into the vegetables with your hands to make sure they’re evenly coated.

Spread the vegetables out on a foil-lined and sprayed rimmed baking sheet, in an oven-proof skillet, or in a baking dish. Make sure they are in a single layer with a little space in between. If they are too crowded, the vegetables will steam instead of roast.

Add more oil if the vegetables still look dry or don’t seem evenly coated.

 

 

 

Oven

Cooking times will vary depending on which vegetable or vegetables you are roasting. It is possible to roast different vegetables together, but you want to wait to add those that will require the least amount of cooking time so they won’t burn.

  • Stir the vegetables occasionally while they are cooking.
  • Cook until the vegetables are tender and brown on the edges.

10 to 15 minutes

  • asparagus
  • baby leeks
  • bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts):
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • eggplant
  • green beans
  • summer squash
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini

30 to 40 minutes

  • acorn squash
  • beets
  • butternut squash
  • carrots
  • fennel
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • mushrooms
  • onions
  • parsnips
  • potatoes
  • shallots
  • sweet potatoes
  • turnips

Roast until the vegetables are tender enough to pierce with a fork and you see some charred bits on the edges. Those charred bits are what make roasted vegetables so good, so even if the vegetables are already tender and cooked through, keep roasting until you see the vegetables start to turn toasty around the tips and edges.

Once the vegetables have finished roasting, scrae them onto wire cooling racks to…what else, cool…

Once they have cooled, store them in airtight containers in your fridge. They will stay good for about five days.

Check and stir the vegetables every 10 to 15 minutes. Continue roasting until the vegetables are easily pierced with a fork or knife and they are showing crispy, charred bits at the tips and edges.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Senoritas with Pepitas and Margaritas

Fresh pumpkins, like fresh coconuts, can often be a “pain in the butt” and is something that most of us are going to do very rarely…like probably once a year at Halloween.

So the very few times that we do actually chop the head off and then dive into its “skull” with a metal object, let’s be sure to take full advantage of this moment.

By gathering the seeds and roasting them.

(Sure, I know you can buy pumpkin seed all year long, but we are trying to progress into a zero-waste country, so how dare you simply throw them away?)

Those pumpkin seeds that so many of us simply throw away actually make a healthy, delicious snack…not to mention a key ingredient in many gourmet entrees—especially in countries of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

1.Choosing Your Pumpkin…You can roast the seeds of any pumpkin, but if you’re actually going to cook with the pumpkin, be sure to read my previous posts.

2. Finding the Rest of the Stuff That You Will NeedIn addition to the obvious pumpkin, you will need a sharp knife, an ice cream scoop, a colander, and a towel..

3. Prepping the PumpkinHow you get your seeds out of your pumpkin depends on what you are planning to do with the pumpkin itself.

Attack the pumpkin from the top If you’re planning on carving your pumpkin to make a jack o’ lantern. Slice the pumpkin in half if you’re planning on roasting it.

Regardless of how you dive into your pumpkin, now use an ice cream scoop to start scraping out the pumpkin guts. In order to get all of the seeds, you’re probably gonna have to actually get your hands into the gooey mess also.

Collect the seeds in a colander as you get them out.

Once you have collected all, or at least most, of the seeds, rinse your seeds under cold running water to remove any pulp and fiber.

Pat the washed seeds dry with paper towels as you are sreading them out on a ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan.

Toss the seeds with melted butter, Himalayan or other natural salt, and pepper.

If you want youtr pumpkin seeds to have more flavor, you could also sprinkle them with grated Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, brown sugar, cinnamon, Cajun seasoning, and/or whatever else you want.

Stir to coat.

4. Prepping the Oven…Preheat oven to 350°F.

5. Pre-boilingMany people boil their pumpkin seeds before roasting them in order to make them  extra crispy, but this can be skipped if you need to.

6. Baking…Roast the pumpkin seeds at about 200 degrees for about twenty minutes, or until light golden brown and crisp, stirring once. You could also “roast” your pumpkin seeds in the microwave . To do this, place them in a single layer in a glass pie plate. Microwave them for about two or three  minutes, stirring after each minute, until the seeds are dry and crunchy.

7. Cooling…Cool at least ten minutes before serving.

8. Storing…Once you have roasted your pumpkin seeds and allowed them to cool, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The seeds are usually best within the first two months, even though they may stay edible for several months.