My Bookclub is pretty serious compared to other bookclubs, so I hear. When we meet we do have fun and there is wine involved, but that’s about where the similarities end. We read serious books and always discuss them. At length. If you dare to show up having not read the book, rest assured you will be subjected to a little #&*%, albeit all in good fun, because there’s really no good excuse for not being able to read one book a month, so I hear.
So why am I starting a post about Roasted Vegetables talking about my Bookclub? Because this month, we’re taking a little bit of a much needed “serious book” break and reading comedian Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants, which is exactly how I feel when I talk to my clients about eating vegetables. I feel like someone’s, no, actually everyone’s mother as I am constantly encouraging people to “think vegetables first” when deciding what to eat. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how nutritious and important to your healthy diet vegetables are. The excuses I usually hear are “When I buy them, they sit in the fridge then go bad” or “Nobody in my family really likes vegetables, so I don’t make them.” The solution to both is: roast your vegetables. Roasted vegetables are at once easy and delicious. So, no more excuses! Now, you start roasting and eating your vegetables because I have a book to read.
Love, Your (Bossypants) Nutritionist
Roasting brings out the sweetness in any vegetable, but particularly root vegetables which tend to roast beautifully, revealing their natural sweetness with every bite. You’d think if I’m being bossy, there are going to be a lot of rules, but really there are only two:
1.) A hot oven (400-425 degrees F)
2.) Uniform pieces (so that they cook evenly).
Pictured above are beets cut both in small pieces and also just quartered. The smaller pieces will cook much more quickly, and can be thrown into salads, but you may just want to have a few larger pieces on the side, depending on your presentation preference.
Cooking enthusiasts can dress them up with spices, herbs and sauces, but with just some olive oil and salt and pepper, you can whip up side dishes for the whole week and even lunches to go. Yes, I’m a fan of roasted vegetables hot out of the oven, cold out of the refrigerator and every temperature in between. The possibilities are endless but I’ve highlighted a few of my Fall faves.
This Rosa eggplant is really pretty whole and raw. Unfortunately, the color of the skin doesn’t hold up to cooking, but the flavor of it roasted, simply brushed with olive oil on each side and sprinkled with Kosher or sea salt and pepper is delicious. To add a fresh flavor, I sprinkled some chopped cilantro (or you could use parsley) on top and it became, well, pretty again.
Roasting is not reserved just for starchy or “root” vegetables. It is one of my favorite ways to eat asparagus. Because asparagus is a “non-starchy” veggie, (and therefore naturally contains a lot of water), it roasts very quickly – 25 minutes or less.
On the contrary, starchier, root vegetables like these parsnips will take longer, maybe two 20-25 minute stints in a hot oven, but don’t forget, you’re not doing anything except shaking the pan or flipping the pieces halfway in between so they’re still really easy to make. (Admittedly, my parsnip pieces are somewhat less than uniform, but do as I say, not as I do or suffer the consequences of a crispy parsnip piece here or there.)
To evenly distribute the oil, you can put the vegetable pieces in a bowl, add the oil and any spices you choose to add and toss with your hands, or you can use this mister from Misto (available at Bed, Bath and Beyond and on Amazon).
Speaking of spices, great choices include cumin, coriander, ginger, and even cinnamon and cayenne. One of my favorite combinations is cauliflower with curry powder. You can add a lot (2 teaspoons of curry powder per medium head of cauliflower) to make it spicy or carefully sprinkle 1/2-1 teaspoon for less spice. As you can see by the photo, I like it spicy and used a lot.
So you get the idea. To increase the chances of everyone in your world eating more vegetables, roast them! Here’s how:
1.) Preheat oven to 400-425 degrees F.
2.) For easy clean-up, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (optional) and spray with cooking spray or olive oil.
3.) Cut 3- 4 cups of vegetable of choice into uniform pieces (large or small but not both unless you are going to roast them separately on different pans).
4.) Place vegetables in a large bowl and toss with 2-4 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2-1 tsp. salt and black pepper to taste. Add 1/2-2 tsp. spice of choice (see suggestions above).
5.) Empty dressed vegetables onto baking sheet and bake for 20-40 minutes, depending on size (smaller pieces will cook faster than large), tossing or stirring once during the cooking process. For smaller cut vegetables, set the timer for 12-15 minutes, then check, stir and set timer again.
You can roast a bunch of different vegetables at once and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. During the week all you need to do is prepare a protein heat up your vegetables and dinner is done.
You can also add roasted vegetables to lunch boxes (recall that roasting makes vegetables taste sweet, and most kids like sweet.)
You can also throw roasted vegetables into a salad which saves a lot of cleaning and chopping during the week, making eating salads a lot more convenient and appealing.
Use your imagination and send me your ideas!