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by Diane Rossen Worthington
It's amazing just how many cookbooks come across my desk.
One that caught my attention recently was "Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen."
These recipes are tried-and-true and will work in your kitchen. Tested again and again, these everyday recipes may not be fancy but they are indeed keepers. What particularly jumped out at me, given the time of year, was the authors' primer on how to roast vegetables. I have plenty of recipes for roasting all sorts of vegetable, but this primer is well worth referring back to the next time you want to throw some veggies in the oven.
Authors Katherine Brennan and Caroline Campion recommend that you enhance the vegetables' natural sweetness and flavor with a drizzle of olive oil, a liberal sprinkling of salt and some high heat. Roasted vegetables pair nicely with lots of main courses and make an easy meal when tossed with a salad, grain or pasta. The colorful mix of roasted vegetables makes a welcome addition to any holiday table.
The Rules Of Roasting
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. (You can go about 25 degrees higher or lower depending on the type of vegetable and if you prefer them more tender or browned, but this is a good starting point.) Use the middle rack position if roasting one pan and the lower and upper thirds if roasting two, switching racks halfway through.
2. Cut the vegetables evenly and not too small. Different size vegetables won't be ready at the same time. The authors suggest 1-inch or so pieces, which yield a nice ratio of crispy/caramelized outside to creamy inside and don't end up too small (vegetables shrink as they roast), but you can adjust as you like. There's no need to cut long, thin vegetables like green beans or asparagus, though; just roast them whole.
3. Don't crowd the vegetables. Make sure they can fit in the pan in a single layer. If they're pressed up against each other, they won't brown. Use an 18- by 13-inch sheet pan, but any low-sided pan is fine. If the pan has high sides, the vegetables can steam instead of roast.
4. Season vegetables directly on the pan. No need to dirty a bowl. The standard recipe is a generous amount of salt (preferably kosher and fine sea salt, although coarse sea salt is fantastic on potatoes), pepper and enough olive oil to lightly coat each piece. Depending on what else is being served, you can add various spices and/or herbs before roasting them, including rosemary, thyme leaves, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, ground ginger or smoked paprika.
5. Combine a variety of vegetables. For example, a favorite winter mix is carrots, butternut squash and parsnips. Remember red beets will stain all the other vegetables, so use yellow beets.
6. Roast them. Put the pan in the oven and cook the vegetables until lightly browned on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Toss them with a spatula, and then continue to cook until tender and golden brown in spots or almost all over, with slightly crispy edges. Watch frilly or delicate vegetables like broccoli or string beans closely toward the end of the cooking time so they don't burn. Depending on the type of vegetable and how big the pieces are, this will probably take 10 to 20 minutes more. If the vegetables are almost tender but aren't browning well, raise the heat to 450 F; conversely, if they're browned but not tender, reduce the heat to 375 F.
Clever cook additions:
You can also combine vegetables with flavorings after roasting. Feel free to add:
-- A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and/or lemon zest
-- Some toasted nuts or seeds (or add untoasted ones to the pan 3 to 6 minutes before the vegetables are finished cooking)
-- A handful of golden raisins (particularly nice with cauliflower)
-- A splash of vinegar (balsamic on roasted string beans is really good)
Roasted Vegetables Recipe, American Cuisine
Available at Amazon.com: Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen
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The A-B-Cs of Roasting Vegetables - How to Roast Vegetables
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