Easy Roasted Vegetables

It’s still winter here.  Honest.

Comfort food time.

Roasted vegetables are a good way to get in your food groups in a way that will keep you interested in maintaining your quotas.  I don’t eat roasted vegetables as often as I should, but they’re a nice way to jazz up a regular plate of meat, side, side, and they’re as easy as Pie (he’s really easy, trust me).  Plus stuff that has been sitting in your refrigerator for a little too long roasts just as well as the stuff you just bought.

Vegetables that roast well are things such as squash, zucchini, eggplant, onions, carrots, potatoes, and garlic.

I am also experimenting here with parsnips and turnip.  You should also experiment.  Try tomatoes, pears, greens … Just give ’em all a good scrub first.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Cut up your vegetables (in this case, carrots, parsnips, rootabega, squash, onion, red pepper, and eggplant) into pieces of a good size – the kind of size you’d want looking at you on a plate.

Toss them in a roasting pan with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and the dried herb of your choice (optional, but rosemary works well).  Here I used whole black peppercorns.

Roast, tossing once or twice, for about an hour, until everything is shriveled, crispy, and tender.  Serve hot with your meal. We had it with pork tenderloin.  Turnips/rootabegas, by the way, need parboiling before roasting.  They just cook so much slower than everything else.  The vegetables are also good cold the next day.  I plan to make a soup from the leftovers.  Stay tuned for that recipe.

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Carrot and Parsnip Butter Mash

This is a modified version of a recipe in Easy Vegetarian, edited by Sharon Ashman, which Kª gave me for my birthday.  It’s total comfort food.  The original recipe calls for mixing spinach with the carrots, a surprising and tasty innovation, but as Kª was bringing a spinach salad on this occasion I replaced the spinach with parsnips.

Making this recipe is super easy but it goes against my principles of vegetable nutrition.  I have always been taught that you gently steam vegetables and you leave their skins on if possible, and that way you get all the good stuff the veggies have to offer.

Boiling the crap out of your vegetables, especially once peeled, means all the goodness goes down the drain when you pour out the water.

In this particular case, however, we will forgo the goodness for the tasty buttery-ness.

Peel up some carrots and some  parsnips, probably on a ratio of 3:1, as parsnips have a stronger flavour and you don’t need as many.  Slice ’em up into little discs and put them in a pot with enough water to cover them.  Boil the crap out of them FOR EVER, or at least until you can mash the carrots against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon (the parsnips will be super soggy by this point already).

Drain all the water out and, with a potato masher, mash up what you’ve got.  Add generous amounts of butter and some salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot, obviously.  I used 7 carrots and 3 parsnips and it served about 8 or 9 people.

Easter (Eater) Dinner

On Sunday the Pie and I had KK, Il Principe, and D, J, and S over for an Easter feast.

I have a lot on my plate this week (and I’m not talking about food here) so I’m going to draw the recounting of this tale out as long as I possibly can.  I’ll try to give you a post a day about all the fun and fantastic things we ate.

I love to have dinner parties.  I think it’s my parents’ influence again.  I’m not really happy unless I can stuff someone else with food until he or she feels the need to lie down.  It really makes my day.

That said, entertaining, on a small or large scale, takes a lot of work and a lot of planning.  Timing is pretty much everything, and it takes practice to get it all to happen at the same time.  The Pie and I have it down to an exact science at this point.  We take a gander at what time things are supposed to be done, chuck them in the oven or on the stove at the various points in time we think they need to go in, then we shut our eyes tight and cross our fingers that everything will turn out properly.  Most of the time we’re right but it took years to get us to this stage.

I have also learned the art of making things ahead of time.  This saves a lot of panic in the kitchen when you’re trying to get everything finished at the same time.  If there are some dishes on your menu that can be popped in the microwave or in the oven for reheating at the last minute then all the better.  Another important thing to remember, and something that I only recently learned, is that you don’t have to make absolutely everything from scratch.  There is nothing wrong with adding store-bought chips to your dips, or purchasing bread as a side.  The more stuff you make the more complications you are going to have.  Besides, sometimes the store versions of things are actually better.  You don’t have to have absolute control over everything that goes on your menu, and so that is why, finally, it is also important to let other people give you a hand if they want to.  Kª wanted to bring a salad, and you know what?  I thought that was a great idea.  And it was a great salad.

Items to be posted this week:

Menu

Appetizers

White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip (made the day before)

Pita Chips (store-bought — really, you don’t have to be a domestic maven all the time – I get the In Snax sea salt versions from In Foods Inc.  They are totally tasty.)

Mains

Ham with Cloves (pre-cooked for simplicity)

Red Curry Quinoa (made the day before)

Sides

Spinach Salad with Blueberries, Feta Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette (made by Kª – I don’t have a link because I didn’t make it)

Carrot and Parsnip Butter Mash (made the day before)

Steamed Asparagus with Lemon, Tarragon, and Toasted Almonds

Roasted Red Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary and Sea Salt

Quick Drop Biscuits

Dessert

Strawberry Glazed Angel Food Cake (strawberry component prepared the day before)

Waiting for the feast.

Red Curry Quinoa

Our vegetarian experiment is drawing to a close, and I hadn’t yet made a curry.  I also had a lot of vegetables in my refrigerator that needed using.  In addition, I wanted to take advantage of my new stainless steel compost bin from Lee Valley and cut up a bunch of vegetables.  Hoorah.

I got the inspiration to make my own curried quinoa from fellow WordPress food blogger Lindsay at The Food Operas.

Dice up a medium onion, three medium carrots, three carrot-sized parsnips, a head of broccoli, a red pepper, and two stalks of celery.

Chop up some vegetables!

In a large saucepan (preferably one with a wide bottom), heat up some olive oil and chuck in your vegetables.  Cook until tender.

Pour in two large handfuls of quinoa, together with a can of coconut milk and a few tablespoons each of red curry paste and minced garlic (I like the stuff that comes in jars).  Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.  Before serving, add a dash of tamari or soy sauce and some garlic chili sauce to taste.

Let that sucker simmer!

We ate it with some na’an.  Mmmm.

I love my na'an.

Garbage Soup with Squash, Spinach, Beans and Barley

Don’t let the name of this soup turn you off: it’s just a moniker my mother applied to any soup she made out of what was left in our refrigerator.

This week I had leftover spaghetti squash from my earlier experiment, as well as leftover cavatappi pasta from our spaghetti night.  What to do . . . ?

The nice thing about soups is they’re dead easy.  I filled a large pot with water and set it to boil.  I added a few heaping spoonfuls of Knorr Vegetable Stock (I use the powder instead of the liquid because I usually can’t use a whole carton before it goes bad and I don’t like to waste it).

Let the soup simmer for a couple of hours on medium-low.

I peeled and chopped a large parsnip and a small turnip (actually a rootabega but who’s checking?) and chucked them in the pot, together with a handful of pearl barley and about a cup of dried white beans.  I also added about a cup’s worth of frozen spinach to the mix, as well as the leftover squash and pasta.  There was already a significant amount of basil in the pesto that was on the squash (as well as the hazelnuts and parmesan cheese), so I didn’t add any other herbs to the mix.  When we eat it we usually add salt and pepper to suit our individual tastes.

Once I got the soup boiling, stirring often, I turned it down to a simmer, medium low, for about two hours, until the beans were cooked and the rootabega was tender.

We ate it hot with tabouleh sandwiches, and it was great.

My dad got me these bowls for Christmas. I am Big Al.

I let the rest of it cool and ladled it into yogurt containers for storage.  I find the yogurt container is a good standard measure for freezing, as it contains about two full servings.

Yogurt containers are a good size for two servings.