My new favorite ultra versatile recipe from Mark Bittman in Cooking Solves Everything -- great for using up sad looking vegetables, but also for meat or bread. It made the beets, squash, and cauliflower that I didn't know what to do with amazing. Next up, turnips.
Preheat oven to 350.
Slice food so it will lay flat (the firmer the vegetable, the thinner the slice -- I sliced the beets, which are harder than potatoes, pretty thinly at 1/4 inch; mushrooms very thickly). Toss in a bowl with olive oil to coat, then spread flat on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper or salt and sugar (or other favorite spice). Roast in oven till they start browning, then turn over and roast some more. Obviously, the firmer foods take longer. Takes anywhere from 10-50 minutes, depending on the food. Very low maintenance, because even if you leave it too long, the browner they are the better they are, and it takes a very long time to actually burn things at 350.
This is the answer to all my unused CSA vegetable problems! I think I may actually be able to cook an entire 3-course meal (meat, vegs, and fresh bread or potatoes) on one baking sheet. It's like a recipe without specified ingredients!
ALMOST ANYTHING PESTO
Along the same lines, here's what I've been doing for pesto:
Something dark green and leafy (basil, baby spinach, beet greens, etc.)
An allium (garlic or shallots)
A hard cheese (Parm, Romano, etc.)
Something nutty (pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
Olive oil & salt
Combine in a mini prep food processor and whiz until spreadable
Wrennerd, roasted veggies are great! We've done a variety a la "Roasted Anything": potatoes (sometimes cubed), sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabaga, winter squash (Acorn, Delicata =slices, Butternut=peeled, cubed), cobbed corn (cut in 'bout 2 inch chunks), Zucchini (~1 in. chunks) Broccoli, Cauliflower, garlic, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes (pierce skin so don't explode), leeks, Cippolini onions, even garlic. All tasty.
As you say, cut appropriately- you can do slices, sticks, cubes, toss in a bit of olive oil, and if big difference in hardness/density of your vegetables watch a bit more closely. Pretty hard to mess up.
This is easy to stick in oven when baking/roasting something else as the trays are pretty thin. BTW, we use a rimmed tray so I don't toss so many veggies off when turning. Also many uses for any leftover roasted veggies, such as chopped relatively small and included in a frittata or quiche.
Winter greens, such as Kale, can also be baked to make chips. After removing leaves from the thick stems, tear into bite size pieces. Wash, dry with a salad spinner. Drizzle the kale with olive oil and sprinkle with [seasoning] salt. Bake at 350˚until the edges brown but not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.
I bet you could do an entire meal this way: veggies, protein, crostini!
Jay, I am going to try making kale chips -- I bought a (gasp) bag to try to see what they are supposed to taste like before trying to make them myself. They were good, but I got about 6 chips and the rest were crumbs (@ $6/bag!). Hoping they stay more intact in my kitchen!
This has been the first time I actually used up all the veggies my CSA gave me before the next box arrived!
Since you mentioned acorn squash, do you have any tips on peeling the skin off the ribs safely? When I used one recently, it was so hard and awkward I was afraid I was going to sever a finger!
It's easier to cook acorn squash in halves or quarters without peeling. Quarters you roast or broil, halves you "boil". Place halves face down (ie insides down) in a casserole dish with water, then bake. For both, you can either scoop out the squash or easily peel of by hand without a knife the softened peel.
I usually just cut the Acorn Squash across the equator into slices. Sometimes I halve first, from top to bottom, to make seeds easier to get out, but you can also use a biscuit/cookie cutter to clean out centers. I got the idea, ahem, from Martha Stewart.
I have been known to use a Chinese cleaver and hammer (start the cut with the cleaver, then thwack the cleaver a few times with the hammer) to cut winter squash and Butternut squash is the only one I can safely peel :-))
Love this post on versatile recipes! It's so true. You CAN roast just about anything and it will taste great. The roasted vegetables are a great starting off point for other recipes, too. I like to puree the roasted cauliflower or squash with some sauteed onions, herbs, and veggie stock, and make a soup out of it.
I'm with Jay and Alexa on not peeling acorn squash until after roasting. In addition to being an annoyance, the peeled squash loses some flavor and has a drier texture once it's roasted.
FWIW, I do peel Butternut squash, when I'm roasting a batch of veggies. I use a Swiss peeler then cut in cubes
Usually I put everything in a bowl and toss lightly with olive oil, scoop onto the sheet with a slotted spoon. Last night poured the OO directly on the baking sheet with the squash-- big mistake: soggy, soft. Usually browned, more crispy, sweeter. Oh well, lesson learned.
Delicata is a nice, pretty squash and technically can eat the skin.