There’s a terrific Farmers’ Market I visit every Sunday, the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market. Conveniently, it’s 5 minutes from my house, and also directly across the street from Bikram Yoga Silverlake where most days I am either torturing people or being tortured in what we lovingly refer to as ‘the hot room.’ (Best workout on the planet. But I digress.) “Farmers’ Market Sundays” have helped create traditions at the house. A few times a year, for instance, we have a Farmers’ Market Dinner, where friends bring to the house whatever they liked from their Farmers’ Market. We cook it all up and have a great meal.
“Farmers’ Market Sundays” also led to Sunday Night Vegetable Roast. A little backstory: I often take time on Sundays to cook. I make broth, I put up vegetables and fruit, I prep for the week. My hometown friend Doneane Beckcom Reese recently turned me onto Salad In A Jar, which works incredibly well and gives you fresh, ready made salad every day. Wine is certainly most always involved and I’m usually writing at the computer at the same time. For me, it’s a great way to relax before Monday rears its head.
One of the things I love to do on Sundays is roast a lot of vegetables. Roasting veggies is my favorite way to prepare them. It’s fast, easy, healthy and tastes so good. There are perks to a Sunday Night Vegetable Roast. First, you end up with an amazing dinner. Roast all your veg, grill some chicken or fish, and you have one of my favorite meals on the planet:
Also, if you double or triple your quantities, you have a bunch of vegetables that will keep all week and be ready for a plethora of fast prep dishes. It makes breakfast very easy, for instance. As an avowed egg fanatic, I can attest that roasted vegetables in your fridge help create excellent breakfasts every morning.
Below, then, I’ll tell you how to best roast your vegetables, and then give you some of the varied dishes you can create with them later in the week. Try doing this some Sunday. Even if you are not much of a cook or are too busy to cook much during the week, taking a couple of hours on a Sunday to prep food is a great idea. You can precook a bunch of different things, all at once, and have a lot of tasty items to pull from the fridge.
Roasting vegetables is easy. Seriously. Take, for instance, the tomatoes and asparagus pictured below. You toss them with a little olive oil and salt & pepper, stick them in a 400 degree oven, and roast. That’s it.
I don’t know of a single vegetable that won’t work perfectly this way. Cooking time differs, certainly. Asparagus roast fast.. only a few minutes if they are thin, perhaps 10 minutes if they are thick. Tomatoes… well, it depends on how you like them. I like to roast tomatoes down big time, maybe even get a little bit of black here and there. So for tomatoes this could be 45 minutes to an hour. For you, 30 minutes might be ideal. Just check the oven every ten minutes or so, you’ll know when you want to pull them out. Cherry tomatoes are perfect for this prep, btw. They are little pops of wonder in your mouth.
With any vegetable you roast, you can add herbs and/or garlic cloves. It’s all good, it all works, it’s all wonderful. Play around and find out your favorite flavor combinations. I like to use thyme on my tomatoes. I like to squirt the asparagus with lemon. It’s difficult to go wrong here. Roast up a bunch of veg, as Jamie Oliver calls them, and they are ready for both your dinner plate and the rest of the week. Seriously, any vegetable you get at the farmers’ market, from squash to cabbage to eggplant to whole onions or scallions or, well, whatever, are served beautifully this way.
I could easily do an entire post on Roast Potatoes. I probably should. Few things make me happier than kick-ass roast potatoes. I’ve tried just about every method out there. Many are good. But I made the same discovery with roast potatoes that I did when I tried dozens of ways to roast a chicken: Simple is best.
Here’s what you want to do:
- Get some potatoes, 10-12. (I like Yukon Gold for roasting.)
- Cut up your potatoes. (I like a nice hearty size you can just eat in one bite.)
- Put them in whatever pan you have for roasting (cast iron skillets are genius for this), toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and stick in a 400 degree oven. It’s key not to pile them, single layer works best. If you need to pans or trays, it’s worth it.
- At about the 20 minute mark, take a spatula and scrape them up to toss. A strong spatula helps here, so they don’t stick and fall apart.
- Roast for another 20 minutes, pull out and scrape up again.
- At this point, add a pad of butter to the pan before you stick the pan back in the oven. Roast a final 20 minutes, about an hour in all. (You don’t want to overdo it, but be sure you have a really good crisp crunch on the outside.)
Look, I’ve tried it all. Different cooking times, different prep. But the above way is best. You get crispy outside, tender inside, terrific flavor. I used to always put rosemary in my roast potatoes. Rosemary is a wonderful herb, ridiculously easy to grow and goes well with potatoes. Garlic, too, is great with potatoes. If you use either or both, put them in during the last 20 minutes or they will become way too black. Lately, though, I don’t even add those. I’ve come to believe if you roast potatoes this simple perfect way, nothing else is needed. The manner in which they disappear speaks to this truth.
ZUCCHINI / SQUASH
Zucchini and all forms of squash are everywhere in summer. They are one of the easiest vegetables to grow… Even I can’t kill squash, hard as I might try. Like any vegetable, they roast up perfectly in the manner I describe above. Slice them into coins and they will roast fast, or you can halve them, roast them a little longer, and serve everyone a half a roast squash, yum.
When my oven fills up with other vegetables roasting, I’ll go ahead and do a squash sauté on the stove, just as easy and just as delicious:
- Take a large onion, halve it, then make slices.
- Slow sauté the onion slices in olive oil, salt and pepper. Take some time here, get them headed toward a nice brown caramelization.
- While the onions cook, slice your squash into any manner of coins you prefer.
- When the onions are soft and starting to brown, throw in your squash. Toss them up, add some fresh thyme and a little more salt and pepper.
- After they cook down about ten minutes, I like to add a few cloves of garlic, slivered. Cook about ten minutes more, taste, then cook to your preferred doneness, be it with a little crisp bite, softer, or cooked way way down.
- Tomato fans can always throw in some chopped tomatoes with the squash coins. It makes more of a vegetable stew, not a bad thing. And a glug of broth and or white wine can’t hurt, though I only do that every so often. Squash, roasted or sautéed, is another great addition to both your dinner and your fridge for the week.
SO WHAT NOW??
Okay! You’ve roasted your veg, you’ve had an amazing Sunday night dinner, you’ve stored the remaining roasted veg in the fridge… now comes the fun part.
Throw any of these vegetables, or a combo, into a pan, warm them up, then add beaten eggs to make a wonderful scramble. Fresh herbs are a great addition if you have them laying around. Just this week I diced and sautéed some pancetta, then added roasted onion and potato and had an amazing egg scramble.
You can do terrific omelets. A favorite of mine is roast asparagus and goat cheese, but you can use any vegetable for a great omelet.
If you are iffy on prepping omelets, click here for the best recipe I’ve ever tried. it’s the perfect base for adding anything.
Baked omelets are also terrific. Ina Garten’s is the best… and with the roast vegetables in the fridge, your prep work is already done.
LUNCH OR DINNER
Many great recipes take time because of the prep, such as soups or stews. Now most of the prep is done. You can sauté some onion, add your broth and a lot of your roasted vegetables and have a terrific roast vegetable soup. Add some chicken from a supermarket rotisserie chicken to make it even heartier.
If you’ve roasted carrots, onions and potatoes, and tomatoes, you have the prep work done for a great stew.
You have the makings for great pastas. Boil your pasta, toss with the roast veg and you have a great roasted primavera. Pasta tossed with roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs and a little fresh parm is terrific. I also like to take the larger roasted tomatoes and blend them up so that you have a ready made marinara, to toss with pasta or use as a pizza sauce.
You can toss your roasted potatoes, cold or warm, with either mayo or mustard, depending on how you lean, and some seasoning to make a quick potato salad.
Spread chopped roast vegetables on puff pastry for a quick and delicious tart.
Chop and toss them with quinoa or any grain for a roast vegetable salad, using your homemade viniagrette.
They are wonderful in a curry.
You can also blend all the vegetables with broth to make a pureed roast vegetable soup.
See what I mean? And these are just a start. So try Sunday Night Vegetable Roast and transform your eating the following week. You won’t be disappointed.
Have more ideas for what to do with roast veg? Please let us know in the comments below. Or tell us your own weekend cooking traditions.