I may have stated previously that I’m fond of meals that require few dishes. This would be one of those dishes. It’s so versatile, and requires very little actual work besides cutting up the veg. This is a hands-off dish; the oven does it all. And the best part is the delicious flavor that roasting brings out in all the vegetables.
I love roasting a mélange of root vegetables. It’s probably hard to tell what’s in the photo, seeing as it’s blanketed in melted cheddar cheese (mm, cheese). I’ve put in large chunks of turnip, yellow potato, kumara (New Zealand’s sweet potato), brussel sprouts, onion and apple. You can use just about any veg you want to use up in your fridge. Just aim for vegetables of similar hardness, and cut them up about the same size. Root vegetables work well together like this, because they are often of similar hardness, and will all take about the same amount of time to cook. In a “softer” dish you could put zucchini and eggplant together, for example. The apple is one exception in my version here. I added it during the last half hour of baking, as it wasn’t a very hard variety of apple. But in retrospect, I could have dealt with it softening up more, allowing its sugar to carmelize to add another dimension! No matter what sort of vegetables you use, I highly recommend adding onion or garlic. These roast to perfection and will bring an extra magnitude of flavor to your dish.
Is there anything else to preparing this to go in the oven? Not really. If you want to keep it basic, just mix in a few spoons of olive oil to make sure everything is lightly coated, and perhaps a bit of salt and/or pepper.
That is, if you like to keep things basic. I like to spice up my olive oil before I mix it into the vegetables. In fact, I use this opportunity to do what I love most in the kitchen: perform some alchemy. I pour some oil (maybe a couple tablespoons) into a small bowl, and then I go to the pantry and the spice shelf and grab everything in sight that will take this dish to the next level, and give these plain veggies a real kick in the pants. The mix of spices is different each time, as I like to choose them spontaneously. Fresh herbs from the garden are great! Much better than their ground, bottled versions if you got ’em. For this dish I got to use some fresh rosemary from my garden. Wow, what a treat to have fresh herbs. I always add some salt and pepper, and if you like heat, add some cayenne or red chili flakes. Or hot sauce. As you can probably tell by now, you can put just about any kind of condiment, sauce or spice into the oil.
Side note: When I’m roasting just potatoes, which are capable of absorbing lots of flavor, I always grate or mince a few cloves of garlic into the oil, and add a dollop of grainy mustard. You know, the kind with whole grains of mustard in it. Any mustard will do for a nice kick of flavor. The more mustard, the more kick. Garlic and mustard work so well for potatoes. I usually add paprika too, to give them that reddish dusting that looks so appealing once the ‘taters get all crusty and toasted on the outside. If you happen to have any tips on how I can add even more flavor to roasted potatoes, I’d be excited to know.
In this picture of the oil rub, I’ve set aside the apples to put into the roast later on. I put some of the oil mixture on them so they can start absorbing flavor even before they start cooking.
This dish takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours in the oven at about 350º F. I usually cover my dish with foil to make sure they hold the vegetables hold their moisture and don’t dry out. When it’s done, grate some cheese on top and put it under the broiler for a minute or two. And voilà! A warm, delicious, nutritious dinner. I had this the other night with some cured meats on the side. Can’t wait to do this again.