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Roasted Vegetable Medley

July 23, 2012

It’s so easy not to like veggies.  If it’s green, it probably doesn’t taste good, right?  Or, at least that’s what a lot of people think.  Even though we all know that vegetables are a necessity in our diets, we generally try to do what we can to avoid eating vegetables.  That’s why I think it’s important to find the vegetables you really like and try to prepare and cook them in fun interesting ways that add flavor and texture to your vegetables so it’s not the same old peas and carrots time after time.

For me, I’m a huge fan of roasting vegetables.  I think that roasting vegetables gives them a lot of flavor, color and texture.  It’s also a nice healthy way to serve vegetables.  In preparing the vegetables to be roasted, you can also infuse a lot of your own personal favorite spices to give your vegetables extra flavor.  Not to mention that throwing your veggies in the oven will add a terrific aroma to your house, especially during those cold winter nights.

In an attempt to make a healthier meal for my husband and I, I decided to add a little twist to my Oven Roasted Broccoli.  Instead of just broccoli, I decided to do a roasted vegetable medley using a variety of vegetables I already had around the house.  It’s best to use hearty vegetables that have a lot of body and can withstand the temperatures of the oven, but there’s certainly no need to use the vegetables that I’ve used, you can add your own little twist my throwing in mushrooms or bell peppers or parsnips or carrots, etc.  For my vegetable medley I used: red skinned potatoes, onions, broccoli, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, rosemary and thyme.  I made sure to use as little olive oil and sesame oil as possible in order to keep the meal as healthy as possible.

I started by taking a few cloves of garlic and slicing them as thinly as I could.  The amount of garlic you use is up to you and your taste buds.  I wanted to make sure the dish had garlic flavoring, and roasting garlic really brings out its sweetness, but I wanted thin slivers so that they would cook through and they wouldn’t be too overpowering since they will be mixed right in to the vegetables.

Now it’s time to cut up the veggies.  I started with whole onions.  I peeled them and then sliced them.  For the onions, I wanted big enough pieces that they didn’t fall apart in the roasting process, but small enough to still be bite-sized.  Also, I wanted to ensure that the onions would cook thoroughly, so the pieces couldn’t be too big.  What I did was halve the whole onion, and then I cut 3 sections out of each half of the onion; so essentially, each whole onion became 6 chunks of onions.

Next up was the potatoes.  I decided to use red skinned potatoes so that I wouldn’t have to peel the potatoes.  However, you could certainly use russets or any other type of potato.  Personally, I feel like Russet potatoes or baking potatoes have too thick of a skin on them, so I roasted them, I’d have to peel them, which takes more time.  With red skins, the skin is so thin that I could roast it by only cleaning and scrubbing the potatoes but not having to peel them.  Since I had medium-sized potatoes, I also halved the potatoes and cut each half into 3 sections.  You could certainly stick with just cutting the potatoes in half or in quarters depending on what size potatoes you have.

I threw the potatoes and onion into a nonreactive mixing bowl.  To the bowl I added my seasoning.  That starts with plenty of salt and pepper.  This is your one shot at imparting flavor into your vegetables, so make sure you season them fully before you roast them in the oven.  After the salt and pepper, I finely minced a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary.  Rosemary goes really well with potatoes, and all vegetables in general.  And the lemon hint that you get from thyme is perfect with roasted vegetables.  Finely mince the herbs to release their flavors and throw those into your bowl as well.  Last step is to drizzle some balsamic vinegar and olive oil into the bowl.  You only want enough olive oil so that it will cover all of the vegetables to help them crisp up, and also to prevent them from sticking to your baking sheet.  Don’t drown your veggies in oil.  With the balsamic vinegar it’s the same thing, you want enough to flavor your food as balsamic will turn from tangy to sweet with enough heat.  But you don’t need to drown your vegetables.  Once everything is in the bowl, it’s time to get a little messy with your vegetables!  Take your clean hands and use them to mix all the spices and vinegar and oil and veggies in your mixing bowl together.  Make sure all the veggies are coated in olive oil and make sure that the spices are distributed through all of the potatoes and onions.

It’s time to take out a baking sheet and use your already messy hands to start transferring the potatoes and onions onto the baking sheet.  You want to make sure everything sits on one layer on your baking sheet so that it will roast properly.  If you pile vegetables on top of one another the items that are stuck in between won’t cook.  Also, the reason I am using my hands to just transfer the vegetables to the baking sheet rather than pouring it out of the bowl is so that I don’t end up with excess amounts of oil and vinegar and spices all over my baking sheet.  First, extra balsamic swimming around on your baking sheet can get messy as it will reduce quickly under the heat of the oven and it will cake on to your baking sheet.  Secondly, I still have broccoli I need to prepare for roasting; therefore, any oil, vinegar and seasoning that is left in the bottom of the bowl will go towards seasoning the broccoli next.  Waste not, want not.  Always gotta think ahead.  Drop the baking sheet into your pre-heated 400 degree oven.  Potatoes will take a long time to cook and become tender.  At 400 degrees, it’ll take about an hour.  Onions also need time to caramelize as well and tenderize.  This is why I started with the harder to cook vegetables and thew them into the oven first.  My easier to cook vegetables, such as broccoli, or if you do bell peppers, will need to go in later so that they don’t burn.

It’s time to prepare the broccoli.  I purchased a couple of heads of crown broccoli and I started cutting them into florets.  I also used the stem of the broccoli as well.  When the broccoli roasts in the oven the tough fibrous part of the broccoli stem will break down.  But if you don’t like broccoli stems, you don’t have to use them.  Just throw the cut broccoli into the same bowl you used for the potatoes and onions.  Since your broccoli has yet to be seasoned, remember to add salt and pepper.  I also minced a few more sprigs of thyme and rosemary, but if you don’t want your vegetables to be overpowered by fresh herbs, you don’t need to do this step.  Also, figure out if you need to add some more olive oil and balsamic.  It could be that what you had left from your potatoes and onions is enough.  But, if you feel like there’s not enough oil to coat the broccoli, then feel free to add more.

About 30 minutes into the roasting process, open up the oven and flip the onions and potatoes on the baking sheet.  The side that was touching the baking sheet should have browned nicely and started to caramelize.  Flip everything to the other side so that it will cook evenly.  After about 10 or 15 more minutes, it’s time to add the broccoli.  Roasted broccoli only takes about 15 minutes or so, depending on how big you cut the broccoli florets.  Add the broccoli by just scooping it right on top of the onions and the potatoes that you already have roasting.  At this point in time, I turned up the temperature of my oven to 425 degrees to roast the broccoli quickly without burning it.

Keep an eye on your broccoli, once its starts to brown and shrink in size, it should be ready.  If the broccoli are done, the rest of the vegetables should be nice and tender as well.  Pull your baking sheet out of the oven and smell the wonderful aroma of roasted garlic and fresh herbs and balsamic that wafts out of the oven.  Your roasted vegetables should be nice and golden brown and caramelized.

Serve the vegetables immediately.  I served my roasted vegetable medley as a side to some lemon-garlic grilled chicken breasts.  The vegetables were the perfect complement to the grilled chicken.  And don’t worry if you roasted too many vegetables because you can store the vegetables in an airtight container and reheat them the next day in the microwave.  I happened to have some left over chicken and vegetables that I took to work and re-heated.  It smelled so wonderful that I had no less than 5 different people ask me what I had cooked and heated that smelled so good.  I guess that’s a great complement when other people look at, and smell your food, and their dying to know what you made!

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