Roasted Veggies or Stop Feeding Your Kids Chicken Nuggets

A mélange of veggies (carrots, turnips, and butternut squash) prepare for the heat.

The concept is simple; crank the oven up to a high temperature (around 425 degrees), take your favorite hard, non-leafy, vegetable and break apart or dice into large cubes (one inch?), line a baking sheet with foil and place the veggies on the sheet along with a good drizzle of olive oil, roast for 20-30 minutes or until a nice roasted color has developed, remove from the oven and toss the veggies with salt, pepper, and whatever else you think might be good from your fridge or pantry. What you have is a delicious side dish to serve to the pickiest vegetable eaters.

Don’t believe us about picky vegetable eaters? We took a couple of heads of cauliflower and roasted them for Steve’s parents over the holidays. Just a little salt and pepper added to the fresh-from-the-oven crucifers, and another drizzle of olive oil, was all it took for these two devout carnivores to enjoy a vegetable they normally don’t eat.

If you’re looking to get kids to eat their veggies, asked them to help out in the kitchen. After washing the cauliflower ask your little ones to break apart the cauliflower and place it on the baking sheet. Let them do the work. When kids feel like they’re a part of the cooking they’re more apt to eat what they’ve prepared.

A bowl of roasted cauliflower with capers, lemon zest and juice.

The roasting of the veggies brings out a deep rich flavor and sweetness that pan frying or blanching looses. Great veggies to try include broccoli, sweet potatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and, of course, the notorious russet potato. We use this technique with hard squash and beets in addition to the veggies already mentioned. An added benefit to cranking up the oven is the warming effect the ambient heat has in a small, freezing apartment.

The basic recipe idea is outlined in the first paragraph, but for those of you who need an actual recipe, well here it is. Roast as much or as little as you want. Just make sure that all vegetable pieces rest in a single layer and that you don’t over crowd the pans. The heat needs to hit as much of the surface of the vegetables as possible (caramelizes the veggies and makes for quick cooking time).

Carrots, butternut squash, and turnips with honey, garam masala, and curry powder.



Simple Roasted Vegetables

Hard vegetables such as; cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, hard winter squashes, etc.
Olive oil*
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. For easy clean up, line baking sheet(s) with aluminum foil. Large dice or break apart (broccoli and cauliflower) the vegetables. Place the veggies on the lined baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons per sheet). Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until a good roasted color has developed. Rotate the pans and toss the vegetables half way through roasting. Once the vegetables are done, transfer into a bowl and add your optional ingredients. Enjoy!

Other optional ingredients: garlic, red pepper flakes, peanut butter, lemon juice, vinegar, capers, anchovies, or whatever your heart, and stomach, desires.

Some Good Combinations

Garlic, red pepper flakes, & peanut butter: Add mince garlic to a bowl with the red pepper flakes and ¼-1/2 cup peanut butter. Add 1-4 tablespoons hot water and stir until a smooth consistency develops. Pour over roasted vegetables and serve with rice or noodles.

Capers, anchovies & vinegar: After the vegetables have roasted. Add 1-2 tablespoons capers, 1 or 2 finely minced anchovies and a light drizzle of your favorite vinegar to the veggies. This is especially good with cauliflower.

Garam Masala, curry, & honey: Toss the veggies with ½ tablespoon (or more) of each spice and about 2 tablespoons honey, along with olive oil, and salt and pepper.

*Italian dressing: Substitute half the olive oil with a good quality Italian dressing before placing in the oven, or add the dressing to the roasted vegetables after they have roasted.

Food Day 2011

At (y)our food choices, we’ve had the sort of year that might lead folks to think we’re on perpetual holiday. We’ve traveled, we’ve celebrated (often) and we’ve eaten very, very well. The food choices we’ve made have been, on the whole, good ones. Whole, organic foods purchased from local producers, home baked breads and wild caught fish and game represent the bulk of our food consumption. We’ve purchased more cookbooks than we care to admit and we’ve worshipped at the alter of molecular gastronomy. Along the way, we’ve shared what we’re learning with others and we’ve joined people in their efforts to fight the good food fight.

But as we reflect on our glorious year in food, we are reminded that far too many people struggle with food insecurity, poor or no access to fresh food and the pressure and misinformation of a food industry hell bent on getting us to consume more and more of the processed stuff that fills our bodies with garbage. These are tough, lean times for a lot of our neighbors. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 49 million Americans didn’t have enough food in 2009 for an active, healthy life. Many of the most vulnerable are children living in poverty. That’s outrageous.

On Monday, October 24th, we join others around the country in observing Food Day, an important awareness campaign created by Center for Science in the Public Interest. According to the Food Day organizers:

Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life—parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes—to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.

Food Day’s goals are ambitious and noble. It’s hard to argue with a movement aimed at addressing our most pressing dietary and food safety challenges. Take a look:

  1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
  2. Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
  3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
  4. Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
  5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
  6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers

With our collective awareness heightened, join us Monday and every day in a quest to find and prepare the most nutritious food possible for you and your families and to work to make clean, affordable, real food available to everyone.

Happy Food Day!