Food for Thought
Heirloom tomatoes and pole beans have sung their swan song for the season, but there is a bounty of hardy autumn crops ready to step in and play the starring role for a few months.
One of the simplest cooking techniques to bring out the best qualities of cold-weather squashes, turnips, parsnips, beets, carrots and cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) is roasting. It’s a practically foolproof way to get dinner on the table without much hassle and to make vegetables the main event on the plate. Try roasting two or three types of vegetables and also preparing a whole grain such as farro, bulgur, quinoa, millet, barley, etc., as a complement. Voilà! Ring the dinner bell.
Let these general roasting guidelines inspire you to try something new this month.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Farenheit. A “hot” oven will help caramelize the natural sugars in the vegetables.
- Chop or break vegetables into uniform bite-sized chunks or roast the vegetable whole. Smaller pieces cook faster and crisp better.
- For easy cleanup, put a piece of parchment paper on a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet. Space the vegetables out for even cooking.
- Either drizzle the veggies with a scant amount of extra virgin olive oil or measure the oil into a resealable plastic bag or a bowl. Add the veggies and toss to coat. The oil is meant to be a sticking medium for seasoning and should be used sparingly.
- Season the vegetables. If plain salt and pepper are too boring, try adding curry mixes, Aleppo pepper, taco seasoning—whatever you’re feeling in the mood for.
- Roast until soft or slightly browned/crisped on edges. Not all vegetables roast at the same pace. For example, beets will take longer than cauliflower, which will take longer than broccoli.
- Experiment! In addition to dabbling with different herbs and spices, try different presentations. Toss a mix of roasted veggies in with your favorite pasta; make tacos with all the trimmings; put the vegetables in a wrap with a light, creamy goat cheese; or toss them with kale or arugula for a warm salad.