Monday, April 11, 2011

Everything's Better Roasted

Well, not everything.  That said, if there's a vegetable that you're either 1)sick of  or 2)never particularly a fan of, I suggest you roast it.

I am still hacking away at last night's lasagna, but I had some veggies in the fridge that needed to be cooked before they went to waste.

My first veggie - Brussels Sprouts.  Few words seem to strike fear into the hearts of children and adults than Brussels Sprouts.  But, these delicious little creatures have gotten a bad rap.  Chances are, if you've eaten them and disliked them, they were frozen and boiled to death.  But, roasted with olive oil and shallots and a touch of parmesan, they are quite tasty.

Anyway, what is a Brussels Sprout anyway?   According to wikipedia:

The Brussels sprout is a cultivar group of wild cabbage cultivated for its small, leafy green buds, which are typically 2.5–4 cm (0.98–1.6 in) in diameter and visually resemble miniature cabbages. The sprout is Brassica oleracea, in the "gemmifera" group of the family Brassicaceae. . . Brussels sprouts, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of the anti-cancer compounds, steaming, microwaving, and stir frying does not result in significant loss.

If you've never prepared a fresh Brussel sprout, it's easier than it sounds.  Get a good knife, and cut off the woody stem.  Discard any yellowed outer leaves.  I like to coarsely chop mine, mix them with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and roast them for 20-25 minutes at 425.  Halfway through the roasting time, I stir in some chopped shallots, and, with four or so minutes to go, I stir in some shredded parmesan/asiago blend.

Second veggie - the yukon gold potato.  Why is this potato different from all other potatoes, such as a russet, a red, etc.?  There's actually a whole page of potato cultivars if you'd like to learn more.  But yukons have a more golden flesh than a russet and, at least to me, are a bit fimer.  I like to roast them with (again) olive oil, freshly ground pepper, sea salt and fresh rosemary.  The roasting time is 30-35 minutes, depending on how small you cut the potatoes (try and get them all the same size for even roasting).

Now, the roasting treatment doesn't just apply to Brussel Sprouts and potatoes.  I also enjoy roasting butternut squash, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant and beets.  What do you need to have handy if you're going to be roasting veggies?

1.  Olive oil.  Lots of olive oil.  We go through it so much that I should really buy stock in whoever owns Bertolli.  Olive oil helps seasonings cling to your veg, and helps you develop that nice brown crust that tastes so yummy.

2.  Sea Salt.  Sea salt or other coarse salts give your food a nicer texture than table salt. 

3.   Freshly Ground Pepper.  I like this from a textural standpoint as well.  I use a kind that has multiple types of peppercorns, which adds some interesting visual contrast.

Happy roasting!

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