When I cook things like this--veggie sides, basic grains, straight-forward salads--I don't usually blog about them. However, I noticed a theme in the what's been coming out of the kitchen lately. It's fabulous caramelized roasty deliciousness, and I wanted to keep track of it all right here. And I figured if I was so happy about finding a great new method for hearty winter vegetables, then some of you out there might want to hear about it too.
As I was typing up the last recipe for this post, another common thread jumped out at me: 425. That's the oven temp you need for a high-heat blast to give otherwise mild-mannered veggies amazing color and flavor. It's no secret that I like a bit of a crispy char on certain foods, but you don't need to blacken (or burn) anything to get the flavor you're after. For all of these recipes (the broccoli especially), just make sure the veggies are dry when you begin--water creates steam and gets in the way of browning.
I could eat a massive plate of these everyday. While nearly as virtuous as my stand-by of steamed vegetables with salt, pepper and a glug of vinegar, these recipes are so much more crave-able and, frankly, addictive (yes, I'm such an annoyingly healthy eater that I label vegetables addictive). That brings me to a note on serving size: For me and Mike, these recipes serve 2. Other recipes calling for similar quantities of vegetables may claim to serve 4. Don't be fooled--this is one of those time when you shouldn't practice portion control too strenuously.
Roasted Curry Cauliflower
I love to save a small amount of the roasted florets and dice them up for an omelet the following day. With more fresh cilantro and bits of Feta cheese, it's different and delicious.
Serves 2 generously
1 head cauliflower, stemmed and cut into bite-sized florets
1 Tbs olive oil (optional)
1 to 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp cumin
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving (optional)
Preheat oven 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat foil with cooking spray.
Put florets on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (or mist with cooking spray for a very low-calorie version). Sprinkle the curry, chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper over the cauliflower, then toss it all up with your hands. It should be well-coated with the colorful spices; if it looks sparse, add extra curry powder. Spread florets into a single layer.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes, tossing once to move them around and check the progress. Cauliflower are done when deep golden brown and fork-tender. Sprinkle with cilantro and lime juice if using and serve immediately.
Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon
To ensure the broccoli caramelizes and develops a fabulous roasty flavor, it must be completely dry. A bag of pre-chopped florets is handy for this; or just be one of those crazy people who pre-washes all their produce upon arriving home from the market. I'm most likely to wash mine a couple hours ahead and let it air dry on the counter, but if you don't have that kind of time, grab some paper towels and blot away. Just like roasted cauliflower, a few pieces of this stuff is amazing as an omelet filler along with bit of sauteed spinach and Feta.
1 large head broccoli, stemmed and cut into bite-sized florets
1 Tbs olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 to 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Red pepper flakes to taste
Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
Put the broccoli on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper (I like this well-salted). Toss to coat the broccoli and roast 10 to 12 minutes (tender broccoli with thin stems will need just 10 minutes; if yours looks tough and thick, go longer). Florets should be golden brown.
Add the garlic and red pepper to taste and toss with the broccoli. Reduce oven temperature to 350, immediately return baking sheet to oven and roast 5 to 8 minutes more, or until edges of garlic are golden and broccoli is fork tender and deeply browned. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve immediately.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Browsing several recipes in order to settle on a cooking method, I noticed this bit of wisdom in Ina Garten's version, which was also echoed on Simply Recipes (click on the link for a lovely photo of a similar recipe): one of the keys to success is salting generously. I'm not sure why this is, but it does help turn these little sprouts into addictive, French fry-like treats.
Serves 2, may be doubled
1 lb Brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves discarded, stem ends trimmed, and halved lengthwise
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 scant Tbs apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp coarse salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 F. Coat a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray.
Put Brussels sprouts on baking sheet and drizzle with oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper to taste. Toss well and spread out in a single layer. Roast 20 to 30 minutes (depending on how large your sprouts are), tossing once. Sprouts are done when they are deeply browned (outer leaves may be crisp) and very tender in the center. Serve immediately.