Having just a little of this and a little of that presents the opportunity of pulling all those little bits together in one delicious medley of roasted vegetables. I had two chioggia beets, two turnips, and the last remaining buttercup squash from the fall. I was even down to the last of my garlic cloves, a rare event in this kitchen.
Roasting intensifies the vegetable flavors and allows some of the sugars to caramelize. The flavors are rich and the textures satisfying. Even the pickiest eaters tend to eat their full share of roasted vegetables. We have even taken to roasting a pan as a mid-afternoon snack. By dinner time, the tray is empty and none of us are cranky from hunger.
A key to the roasting is to allow plenty of room for each vegetable piece to breathe. If you pile vegetable on top of vegetable or if you push the pieces too close together in a single layer, the vegetables will steam rather than roast. The resulting flavor of a steamed vegetable is not the same as roasted. (Check out our article on roasted beets.)
You will need to toss, turn, or shake the pan of vegetables once or twice during the roasting process for even roasting. How you handle this depends on the size and shape of what you are roasting. If you have a pan of 1-inch cubes, simply flip them around with a spatula. You may even be able to just shake the pan. In the case of the buttercup squash slices, I had to flip each one individually. It was a little more work, but worth it.
Get to know your favorite vegetables and how long it takes each to roast. When I assembled this pan, I cut the beets into small cubes knowing that they would not cook as fast as the squash. Having large slices of squash and small bits of beet leveled the roasting time. Everything was ready at the same time.
The exception was the garlic. When I add whole garlic cloves to a pan of vegetables, I place the cloves directly on top of larger pieces of vegetable. In this case each squash slice was hosting a garlic clove. If you put the garlic directly on the baking sheet, it burns quickly. When I was ready to turn the squash pieces, the garlic was already roasted so I pulled them off the pan and set them aside. The garlic was added back to the medley at serving time.
Encouraged by comments from our Facebook friends, I added sprigs of fresh rosemary to the roasting pan. Indeed, if you like rosemary at all, you need to try some for roasting vegetables. The rosemary provides a fine finished effect. The rosemary can handle the high temperatures without adding a burned taste. I would not do this with basil, cilantro, or any of the delicate, fresh leafy herbs.
Roasted Beet Medley Ingredients
- 2 beets in 1 inch cubes.
- 2 turnips in 1/4 in rounds.
- 1 small winter squash, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/2 slabs.
- 6 or so cloves of garlic, peeled.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Springs of fresh rosemary.
Roasted Beet Medley Steps
- Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss until every vegetable is completely coated with oil. The oil helps to seal in the juices.
- Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet. I use a cookie sheet with sides. Remember not to crowd them.
- Place the garlic on top of the winter squash. Arrange the rosemary springs among the vegetable pieces.
- Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Turn the vegetables over about half way through the time. Watch at the end of 30 minutes. A number of factors can effect how long the vegetables need to roast. Your nose will get educated on when they have been in the oven long enough even though the time is not up. In the meantime, just check for doneness. The insides should be soft. The outsides should be browning and beginning to caramelize.
- You may want to toss the roasted vegetable with a bit more extra virgin olive oil prior to serving. Check for salt and pepper and make any needed adjustments.
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