24 January 2013

Roasted Veggies Recipe

I am going to share with you my most prized recipe. I find myself making this probably too often. Wait, it can't be too often because veggies are good for the body. Hmm, then I guess I make this just the right amount. Or not enough? Anyways, I love veggies. Most people don't. Actually, most people I know have never even tried a Brussels sprout. This recipe turns them into Brussels sprout lovers. 

**Warning!** I write my recipes how I think, so hopefully it isn't too scatterbrained. If it is, skip to the bottom for a concise recipe without all the gibber-jabber.

I start by preheating the oven to about 400ish degrees. I use the 'ish' because my oven runs hot, so I actually set it somewhere between 375 and 400. Feel free to experiment and figure out what works with your oven. This recipe is pretty forgiving. 

Next I spray my 11" x 17" baking sheet with olive oil. Sometimes I am lazy and put foil down instead, but I was out of foil and making a special trip to the store to buy something that will help me be lazy doesn't seem worth it when you look at energy expenditure. 

Oh, you will possibly be confused my the squirt bottle of olive oil! Allow me to explain: My dad had polio when he was in high school way back when. This left him with post-polio syndrome later in life. He loved cooking. He loved eating salads. He loved plain olive oil and vinegar salad dressing. He had trouble with screw tops. We put olive oil in a squirt bottle and vinegar in another, and presto, he could douse his own salads. It is also a really handy way of coating things in just a little bit of olive oil instead of drenching them. So needless to say, it caught on in my family, and I still use my squirt bottle of olive oil. 

So, about that pan... Squirting it helps to keep the veggies from sticking. You could use that aerosol cooking spray, but I mix (toss?) the veggies a lot, and I don't want the odd taste on them, so olive oil it is for me. Squirt squirt.

Next I work on the veggies. Today I used carrots, red potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. You can use these, regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, fennel, any veggie that is appropriate for roasting. Have fun with it! 

First, kerrerts.

I wash them, and chop both ends off. You can peel them, but that seems like a waste of time to me. (Did I mention I'm lazy?)

Save the bits for your compost bin!

Next you chop them into about 1" pieces. I like to pretend the knife is a rotary cutter and cut multiples at a time. You might not like to live as dangerously as I do, though.

You might end up with slices from the fat end that are too big. 'How big is too big?' you might be asking. Well, we want everything to be roughly the same size so it will cook at the same speed.

So if some are too fat, cut them in half!

Then dump those on the greased pan and move on.

Next up: Po-tay-toes. It might help if you watched this video before hand. Or not.

Actually, it probably will not help. Fact: I dance around the kitchen like the odd little potato people in the video when I cook potatoes.

Oh, yeah, back to taters! You can wash them, unless you like eating dirt, which is cool, but I don't, so I wash them.

Then you have a bunch of shiny red potatoes.

 Start by cutting them in half. Do you see those in the very bottom right corner that are sitting flat? They were cut in quarters because they were too big. 'How big is too big?' you might be asking again. Well, we still want everything to be roughly the same size.

I usually cut all of my red potatoes in quarters just because they sit more nicely in the pan and don't wobble. Not that wobbling has ANY effect on roasting whatsoever. It just makes me happy.

Then you add those to the pile!

Finally we move on to Brussels sprouts. I saved the best for last. This is my favorite veggie. For a while in grad school, I was eating them every single day. In my defense, I was finishing my masters, teaching high school, teaching college astronomy labs, and co-directing The Vagina Monologues, so avoiding decisions and eating the same thing every day was beneficial and a real time saver.

First you need to cut off the stem bit at the bottom.

I also remove the outermost layers, because they tend to be a little wilty. This is what you should roughly be taking off. Save this for your compost bin, too!

Then you cut them in half. 'Why? They are already small!' you might be saying. Well, I do this because they are so dang gorgeous on the inside and I just like looking at it.

Then you end up with a big pile of them all chopped in half. Yum. Try to resist the temptation to eat them all right now.

Then you add them to the pile!

At this point, I bring out my trusty squirt bottle of olive oil again and give them a good coating. This will help your seasoning adhere.

Once you think you have enough on there, (about 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup) give them a good toss so that they are all consistently shiny and ready for seasoning.

Now for seasoning, which is where you really get to have fun! For sure, you need to add salt and pepper. Everything else is negotiable. Today I used: Thyme, garlic powder (you could add fresh minced garlic, or whole cloves too), salt & pepper, onion powder (could add actual onion), lemon pepper (could just squirt lemon juice), basil, and sesame seeds since I have so many from Japan. 

You can also add in rosemary, dill, cinnamon (especially if you put sweet potatoes!), cilantro, whatever really! No idea why I didn't put rosemary since it is growing in my garden right now, but oh well.

So add all of that in, and give them another good toss to ensure even coating.

Spread them out so that they are not doubled up on top of each other. You only want one layer of veggies. Depending on how much you are cooking, this might require two pans.

Then you should put them in the oven for about 20 minutes. You will hear them whistling in the oven as the moisture cooks away. It is kind of adorable. While you are waiting, you can go sew something, or start filling your new ice cube trays if your ice cube maker also just broke. *Sigh*

After 20 minutes, you are going to take them out of the oven (don't turn it off yet, because we are not done!). You could fork test the potatoes, but they are not going to be done. At this point, they usually look a little dry, so I add a little more olive oil and mix them up again. This time, don't use your hand because they are about 400 degrees. Ask me how I know.

I recommend a metal spatula.

Then they go back in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you are worried about overcooking them, you can turn the oven down a bit, or check them more often. Remember though, when you roast veggies, you want the outer bits to be caramelized and nommy.

So after about 10 more minutes, they should look like this! The potatoes should be fork tender (fork easily stabs through them). 

Then you can use them as the perfect side dish to go with any meaty meal or you can be like me and just eat a giant bowl of them AS a meal. Nom nom nom.

 Thanks for sticking through it and enjoy your tasty new food!

Roasted Veggies
~3-5 large carrots, washed and chopped to 3/4"-1" chunks
~1 lb red potatoes, washed and chopped into quarters
~1/2 package Brussels sprouts with stems and outer leaves removed, chopped in half
~1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for greasing pan)
~1/2 tsp salt
~1/2 tsp pepper
~1 tsp basil
~1/4 tsp thyme
~1/4 tsp lemon pepper
~1/4 tsp onion powder
~1/4 tsp garlic powder
You can add other spices or change amounts to suit your taste.

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Grease pan with olive oil.
3) Add veggies to pan. Toss with olive oil, saving some for later.
4) Sprinkle with salt & pepper, basil, thyme, lemon pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, & sesame seeds. (Can add other spices or remove some of these.)
5) Toss again to coat evenly.
6) Spread in a single layer on pan.
7) Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven.
8) Add a little bit more olive oil to avoid drying out. Toss again.
9) Put back in oven for 10-15 minutes, then remove from oven.
10) Serve and enjoy!

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