Roasting 101

Roasting vegetables is my most favorite preparation.  You get a huge return on a very minimal preparation:  Roasting coaxes such a deep, sweet flavor from your veggies that easily elevates your main dishes, soups, stews, salads, and sauces–and all you have to do is slice, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper {and optionally maple syrup, lemon juice/zest}, and place in a hot oven for an hour or so.

One of my go-to meals is roasting a winter squash and filling it with some sort of whole grain+veggie stuffing.  {Here’s an example} I love it because I can throw the squash in the oven and forget about it for an hour, and the stuffing takes just 20-30 minutes to prepare.  Roasting whole or sliced veggies adds sweetness and depth to a salad–throw your veggies in the oven, forget about them for 20-60 minutes, and toss your salad ingredients once the oven is off.  Super easy.  {Try this salad, or this one}  I love roasting garden  tomatoes and onions to make my fresh summer tomato sauce, or tomatillos and poblanos for fresh tomatillo sauce.  {I’ve also been known to use green tomatoes in the place of tomatillos for a Faux Tomatillo Sauce}.

I will use one of my “Food Prep Days” to load up pans of veggies/foil-wrapped sweet potatoes, roast them, then scoop out the flesh and measure into a freezer storage bag to use later for flavoring homemade pastas, pizzas, soups, biscuits, enchiladas, etc.  This is a great preparation method to still get homemade deep flavor if you have an especially busy week ahead of you–spend an hour or so roasting over the weekend, freeze, and pull out the bag at the beginning of your day so it’s a ready-to-go-quick-addition your dinner.   roasting beforeroasting after


ROASTING 101

  • Servings: you decide
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • Vegetable of choice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Prepare your vegetable by slicing, dicing, halving, scooping out seeds as needed.  Lay on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, or other ingredients as needed.  Flavors will concentrate while roasting in the oven–maple syrup, lemon juice/zest, other ground spices are great additions.
  3. If using large chunks/slices of vegetables, place them in a large bowl after preparing, and add olive oil, salt and pepper, and stir to evenly coat all sides.  Then place on the baking sheet.  Make sure your sheet is large enough–you don’t want to crowd the vegetables or they will steam instead of roast.
  4. For large cuts, like halved winter squashes, roast for at least one hour.  If they are very thick, they may take 1 1/2-2 hours, just keep an eye on them.  They will be golden brown and soft when poked with a fork or knife.
  5. For slices or smaller cuts, like sliced winter squash, carrots, or sliced vegetables for a sauce, roast for 20 minutes, flip slices to the other side, or stir the combined sauce veggies, and roast for another 20-30 minutes.  You want nice caramelized (or golden brown) edges, not burnt edges.

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Vegetable Stock and Veg Mix

About once a year I load up on HUGE amounts of carrots, celery, onions, parsley, and garlic, and I spend a couple days making vegetable stock and chopping celery, onions, and carrots to freeze for a pre-made, ready to grab veg mix to use throughout the year.

I store everything in freezer quart bags, label them, and throw them in the deep freeze, laying flat so I can stack them easier.  The chopped mix usually lasts me a whole year, and the stock usually 6-8 months, then I restock my stock {…haha} as I need until the next Veg Day.

{Let me welcome you into the deep insides of my freezer}

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As far as chopping vegetables, that’s it.  Chop them all up into equal-sized bits and pieces, stir in a big bowl to evenly distribute, scoop into a freezer bag.  End of story.  I usually just do the carrots, celery, and onion, and add garlic later when I’m cooking, if I need it.  {My mom loves to do things for me when she visits.  You know, like clean my floorboards or fan blades, all the little things I normally don’t get to.  She once grated an entire Costco-sized bag of whole, peeled garlic cloves for me, and scooped the gratings into an ice cube tray to freeze so I could use later.  She only stopped when she said her fingers were starting to burn.  Moms are awesome.}  Last tip:  Don’t add parsley, it will get goopy and gross hanging out in the freezer then defrosting.

Vegetable stock couldn’t be easier.  Your stock will taste like what you put in it.  For a Basic Vegetable Stock, I always use carrots, celery, onions, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper.  For a little zing, I’ve added lemon to that mix.  For sweetness, I’ve added parsnips and apples.

Just sauté your roughly chopped ingredients in a large pot, cover with water, and let simmer for about 45 minutes.  Let it cool to room temperature and divide into freezer bags {I usually do anywhere from 2-4 cups per bag, because I know those are my go-to stock amounts I always use}.  Label, lay flat, freeze, and pull out at your leisure for a deeper flavor in your soups, stews, rice, grains, etc.

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BASIC VEGETABLE STOCK

  • Servings: 5 1/2 quarts, made in a 6 quart stock pot
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Salt and Pepper to taste…what does that mean?!  Your taste is different from mine.  For such a large batch, I usually add 1 tablespoon of each.  It’s better to start with small amounts–remember the water is reducing, concentrating the salt.  You can always add more salt and pepper, but you can’t take it away once it’s been cooking.  One half of cooking is cooking, the other half is tasting as you cook and adjusting flavors as needed during the cooking process.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 yellow onions, quartered
  • 3 carrots, cut in 2-inch chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in 2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup whole, peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 handful fresh Italian parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste (you can use whole peppercorns or ground pepper)
  • 7-10 cups water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Coat a 6-Quart stock pot with olive oil and heat over medium high to high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauté until the vegetables are just starting to turn golden brown.
  2. Add the parsley and add enough water to cover the vegetables with 1-2 inches of water.  Let the stock come to a boil, and reduce heat to low.  Let the stock simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Add more water to raise the stock level to 1-2 inches above the vegetables, and let simmer for another 20 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.  Pour through a strainer into  a large pitcher or measure cup with a spout, for easy-less-mess pouring into freezer bags.  If you use a large measuring cup, you’ll also know how many cups per bag you’re pouring.  (Isn’t experience nice like that?)
  4. To freeze, label the bags with the date and amount, lay flat on a large baking sheet, and freeze overnight.  Once they are frozen you can stack them to make more room in your freezer.

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