Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Roasted Root Vegetables with Vinaigrette

Roasted Root Vegetables with Vinaigrette



PHOTO TUTORIAL  |  PRINTABLE RECIPE  |  HUNGRY FOR TIPS?

Fear Conquered: Vegetable Sides

See that big succulent roasted turkey? Or that glistening honey-glazed ham? Or, even better, that juicy buttery steak that will just melt in your mouth?

Yeah, none of that excites me. I get excited by sides. That's why you see a big side of roasted root vegetables.

Fries with Steak

In fact, when I go to a restaurant, I could care less about the steak or the chicken or the fish (or even the pasta entrees). I’m on a quest to discover the best mashed potatoes, the ultimate mac and cheese, the most delectable sweet potato fries, the smokiest baked beans, the perfect coleslaw. Forget the entree - I can make a meal out of sides any day.

Holiday meals with friends and family are no different. Everyone else can drool over the succulent turkey or the juicy burgers, but what I crave are the whipped yams, candied beets, potato salad and fresh-baked rolls. My over-filled plate is always disproportionately crammed with those tasty but under-appreciated sides.

Root Vegetables Added to a Large Bowel

Growing up, my mother didn't have a lot of time for fancy sides - she was far to busy chasing after at least six children and juggling the duties of a homemaker, preacher's wife, homeschool teacher and groundskeeper. Thus, typical sides were simple but nutritious: thawed frozen green beans from her garden (warmed in the microwave), bowls of jarred stewed tomatoes (also from her garden), canned corn (for a little variety) or occasional mashed or baked potatoes. Sometimes there were muffins or biscuits or even pasta. And we always had some kind of salad, either fruit or greens. My mother loved us and wanted to be sure we were well fed.

And while her simple sides certainly did their requisite job of filling our stomachs with nutritious vegetables and the occasional starch, I always craved more. I craved sides like those served in the restaurants we so infrequently visited. I wanted butter and cheese on my mashed potatoes, I wanted muffins crowned with beautiful peaks and sweetened with sugar and I wanted salt and butter in my corn. Quite frankly, I craved delicious sides to help me forget the unexciting entree proteins.

Skip forward a few decades and I find myself facing the same challenge my mother surely encountered (only she had six children underfoot). How does one transform healthful hum-drum sides into healthful delicious sides?

Untitled

Honestly, I don't have one good answer. But I have learned a few tricks, especially when working with vegetable sides.
  • Never overcook vegetables. Not only are mushy vegetables disgusting, they've also lost much of their nutritional value during the (over) cooking process. I always remove a vegetable from heat slightly before it's perfectly cooked - the residual heat within the vegetable will finish the job.
     
  • Season with salt. Vegetables have a tremendous amount of flavor, but they really do need salt to help it along. Once I started seasoning my vegetables with kosher salt, I was amazed at the difference in flavor.
     
  • When in doubt, roast. Forget pots of boiling water, microwaves or fancy steamers. Roasting almost any vegetable concentrates the inherent flavors and at high temperatures will even caramelize the natural sugars within the vegetable. You may be surprised how delicious simple roast vegetables can be.
     
  • Mix it up. And I'm not talking about those bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer isle. Pairing two or more vegetables together can lead to an entirely new experience - like corn paired with bell pepper and onions or radishes paired with beets. If you're bored with your vegetables, start experimenting.
Experimentation - and my continuing quest for delicious sides - is what ultimately led to this post. This is my favorite technique for preparing roasted root vegetables. There's sweetness from the roasting, tanginess from the vinaigrette, a hint of salt to bring out the natural flavors and just a touch of heat from the cracked black pepper. Nutritious - and nothing sad or mushy about it.



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Photo Tutorial

Dijon, Honey and Vinegar for Vinaigrette
Combine the dijon mustard, honey and vinegar in a medium measure.

Salt and Pepper Added to Vinaigrette
Whisk in the salt and cracked black pepper.

Oil Whisked into Vinaigrette
Gradually whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette thickens and the oil is emulsified.

Root Vegetables Prepped
Prepare the root vegetables. I sometimes use golden beets (pictured above) instead of red.

Root Vegetables Added to a Large Bowel
Combine the chunked vegetables in a large bowl.

Vinaigrette Poured Over Veggies
Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss with your hands to coat.

Veggies Added to Roasting Dish
Transfer the vegetables to a large oven-safe roasting pan and roast uncovered for 50-55 minutes at 475F, stirring once.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Vinaigrette
Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir once more; allow the vegetables to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Vinaigrette



STORY  |  PHOTO TUTORIAL  |  HUNGRY FOR TIPS?

Roasted Root Vegetables with Vinaigrette

    by Javelin Warrior
     Prep Time: 30 min
     Cook Time: 55 min

Ingredients
    Root Vegetables
    • 3 medium carrots, chunked
    • 2 medium parsnips, chunked
    • 2 medium red onions, peeled and chunked
    • 2 medium beets, peeled and chunked
    • 1 medium turnip, chunked
    Vinaigrette
    • 4 teaspoons dijon mustard (recommend Grey Poupon)
    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 475℉
    2. For the vinaigrette: In medium measure, whisk together the mustard, honey, salt, pepper and vinegar until smooth; slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking vigorously - the vinaigrette will emulsify the oil and gradually thicken
    3. Add the chunked vegetables to a large bowl and pour over the vinaigrette; toss to thoroughly coat the vegetables
    4. Transfer the vegetables to a large, oven-safe dish and roast uncovered for 50-55 minutes, stirring once, until the beets have softened; remove the dish from the oven, stir the vegetables again and let rest for 5 minutes before serving
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    Hungry for Tips?
    • Family Fun: If you've got family or friends hanging around the kitchen, involve them in the fun. This is a great recipe to make as a group because everyone can take a task: one person makes the vinaigrette, another peels all the root vegetables, another dices and slices. Within 10 minutes (and undoubtedly a few chuckles along the way), everything's ready to pop in the oven.
       
    • Leftovers: These roasted vegetables can be easily transformed into more than just a side dish - I love to turn them into a sandwich (a spread of homemade mayonnaise over whole grain bread with a melt of cheese), a simple crostini under the boiler or even as a pureed soup (with a little added stock and seasoning).
       
    • Resting: If possible, let the vegetables rest for the recommended time given in the recipe instructions. As the beets rest, they will continue to cook and soften without ever approaching mush.
       
    • Size and Shape: The roasting times are only estimates as different sized chunks of vegetables will require different amounts of time to cook and everyone has a different preference for softness in vegetables. As you approach the end of the roasting time, check the vegetables and adjust the roasting time as required.



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    16 comments:

    1. yes yes YES!!! this is my favourite way of cooking veg... roasted carrots and fennel is my absolute favourite... plenty of salt and some rosemary thrown in... divine... I also love to roast baby tomatoes or cherry tomatoes in balsamic vinegar and olive oil... wonderful stuff... you should also try roasting onions and then making soup with the roasted onions... heavenly!!!

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      1. Dom, roasted onion soup sounds delicious - and I'll have to give the rosemary with fennel and carrots a try - I don't think I'd mix rosemary with this vinaigrette tho. It would be a bit too much going on... =)

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    2. i wholeheartedly agree, roasting is the way to go on root veggies! I like all the stuff you put in this blog: great tips, 2 variations and my favorite part-that tasty vinaigrette! Well done!

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      1. Thanks Tina - I do have a way of prattling on, don't I? ;)

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    3. I love veggies... but one of our favorites is just plain ol steamed veggies in a little steamer thingy appliance. LOL - I don't know what the right name is, but it steams rice, vegetables, etc. Sometimes we'll have some brown rice/wild rice or white rice and then poor a bunched of different steamed veggies on the top. I might add chicken or not - just depends. Throw a little celery salt on the top and maybe some cheddar cheese - oh, now that's a meal! I do like Paula Dean's Corn Casserole (except I just try to make it a little more healthy). I still remember growing up - we had vegetables from the garden (didn't know they sold them in a store) and I'm trying to get back to that with my earthboxes. Ahhh, now I'm hungry for some veggies. :)

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      Replies
      1. Don, definitely try roasting them sometime. Steaming is a great way to cook, but I don't find it concentrates the flavor as well as roasting. Although I would like a rice cooker. Because I'm lazy and HATE cooking rice =)

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    4. I love roasting veggies, it changes the flavor so much and I like the little crunchy bits!! mmmmm.

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      Replies
      1. You're absolutely right about the flavor changing - and it's so easy!

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    5. I have some beets in the fridge waiting to be roasted...I need to pick up a few more veggies, then I will try them with your vinaigrette....mmmmmmmmmm.

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      Replies
      1. Lizzy, I hope you enjoy and let me know how they turn out =)

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    6. Ooh yes roasting brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables which I really love! This looks fantastic :D

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      Replies
      1. Thanks for the compliment - and I was happy with a few of the photos ;)

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    7. Excellent recipe. I bookmark this. Your directions are also very good!

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      Replies
      1. I'm so happy you like it =) Please let me know if end up making it...

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    8. Absolutely beautiful post - the tricks of working with vegetables are great!And so are the pictures and the combination of colors.
      I like roasting vegetables too,but thanks to my laziness,or rather because Indians hardly roast vegetables,I don't do it too often.Your post reminds me of making this Roasted Pumpkin Soup in college.
      Bookmarking/noting down obviously,I will be trying the first version.:-)
      Thank you for sharing!:-)

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      Replies
      1. Thank you, Fahad! And I hope you get a chance to try it - let me know how it turns out for you :)

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