October in Virginia is the last gasp for fresh vegetables at our local farmer’s market. Having just mailed off my latest book, I took the morning to visit and stock up for a week of roasted veggies. While the pickings were slimmer than they’d been a month before, I still returned home with armloads of goodies to roast. The last of the fresh eggplant (I bought three of the paler, striped version, 6 to 8 inches long), three small, firm zucchini, shining onions, colorful peppers, and garlic.
Instead of putting my lovely finds away to wither in my fridge, I immediately washed and chopped (all the epplant, zucchini, three peppers, along with one large onion and four cloves of garlic) into 3/4″ cubes, adding two cubed potatoes from my cupboard, some chopped chili peppers I’d grown myself, and a small bag of baby carrots, just as they were. In a large bowl I tossed everything with several tablespoons of olive oil until they were lightly coated and glistened. In went chopped herbs from my herb bed, Greek oregano, basil, rosemary, and Creole seasoning. Trust me, if you’ve spent any time in Louisiana at all, a meal isn’t a meal without Tony Chachere’s or his buddies.
Next I spread the veggies on two , lightly oiled cookie sheets and popped them into my oven at 450 degrees. Fifteen minutes later I stirred and flipped, which I continued to do at five minute intervals until they were cooked through and beginning to caramelize, or turn a bit brown around the edges. I like mine a bit more shriveled than my husband does, so we compromised at about 30 minutes.
Once they cooled, I put my two quarts of roasted veggies in my fridge to use all week. And wow, the possibilities are endless. No sauteeing, boiling, baking this week. The work was done.
Although I was “past” deadline, roasted veggies are a huge favorite in our home whenever we’re under the gun. You note how approximate my directions are? That’s because almost anything goes. Use what you have. Use whatever is fresh. Root veggies, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower are great in the winter; squashes and eggplant are great in the summer. I’ve used turnips, kohlrabi, parsnips. Everything tastes great roasted, even veggies I wouldn’t touch any other way. And the finished product is particularly wonderful to have around when there’s little time for cooking. The only real output is the chopping, but once cooked, you’re set for the week.
And what to do with them? Here are three ideas to stimulate your imagination.
Using this fabulous and foolproof pizza dough recipe, I brush the uncooked crust (stretched on my pizza pan) with garlic infused olive oil, then put a layer of roasted veggies on top. Not so thickly you can’t see patches of crust. I sprinkle grated mozzarella on top, dollop with goat cheese, and finish with slices of fresh (Roma is best) tomatoes. Bake at 475 for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
Fill an omelet with your roasted veggies and a little goat or feta cheese. Yum!
And last night? I made homemade pesto from my herb garden basil, (I use 1 cup of olive oil in this pesto recipe, not 1 1/2) froze half my batch in ice cube trays for the winter (pop them into a freezer bag once frozen), then mixed the other half with about 2 cups of my roasted veggies. Since I had fresh baby bella mushrooms, I sliced and sauteed about 8 and added the veggies to these to heat, then the pesto. Pesto should not be overheated. We tossed this with 8 ounces of cooked farfalle pasta, and sprinkled about 1/4 cup crumbled feta on top. Pure bliss, and there are leftovers for tonight.
Roasted veggies are also fabulous as a plain side dish, with perhaps a little goat or feta cheese sprinkled on top. The possibilities are endless. Best of all, this is healthy fast food. No trip through the drive-through needed. And veggies? Brain food all the way. You’ll write better; you’ll read better.
Have more ideas? We’d love to hear. I’m thinking “quiche.”
Thanks to “Maverick crafter” Margi, for suggesting on my FB page that I write about favorite fall comfort foods. Margi, this one’s for you.