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A simple way to roast summer's best vegetables

Roasted vegetables are a staple in our home. Anything in the crisper drawer may end up slicked with oil, scattered on a baking sheet and sent into the oven. The results are always worth it, not that it's not much work on our part. Roasted tomatoes are a no-brainer right now, and they are easy enough to toss into pasta or salads for a quick weekday meal.

Still, I feel like I've been doing it all wrong.

Luisa Weiss, a veteran food blogger at the Wednesday Chef, wrote about roasting vegetables in a different way thanks to her aunt. She calls them the Best Roasted Vegetables Ever, and it is not a stretch to say so. Like her, I used to coat one type of vegetable in oil and lay out the chopped pieces with enough space for each piece to get brown and crispy at the edges. This new method has you pile a bunch of different chopped vegetables on top of each other in a thick layer, creating a completely different result. The vegetables end up soft, luscious, and more concentrated in flavor. It's like an easy, roasted ratatouille.

It is a forgiving recipe, hardly a recipe at all, and I made little tweaks each time. But here's what I typically like to use: two or so eggplants, a couple greedy handfuls of cherry tomatoes, another medium tomato because it's the end of summer and they are too good, three or so medium-sized zucchinis, two or three sweet bell peppers, a thinly sliced onion, garlic, and a medium butternut squash.

Eggplant and cherry tomatoes are my favorite in the bunch. Danny loves the whole garlic cloves; they mellow in the oven. For our most recent roast, we used two heads of garlic. We ate them all. Best roasted vegetables, yes. I'd also like to call this vegetable candy.

You could also throw in potatoes or carrots if you have them, but butternut is the right squash to use here. Line the baking pan with parchment paper for easier cleanup — those tomatoes are incredibly juicy right now.

Once you have the vegetables, use them any way you'd like. Serve the vegetables with toast or on the side of fish or meat. Toss them with pasta, something like orecchiette, and you have a quick and satisfying dinner. Scatter them on flatbread.

I bet they'll become a staple in your home, too.

Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with her boyfriend, Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be reached at alittlesaffron@gmail.com.

>>easy

The Best Roasted Vegetables Ever

This is a guideline for my favorite combination so far, but this is a very flexible recipe. Use more or less of any vegetable you like. Just remember to use plenty of olive oil and to crowd the vegetables. There's no shortage of ways to eat them. Try them on toast or with pasta and cheese. Serve them on the side of fish or fold them into an omelet or tortilla.

2 eggplants

2 zucchinis

1 medium butternut squash, peeled

A couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium tomato

2 or 3 sweet bell peppers, diced

10 or so garlic cloves, peeled

1 small onion, thinly sliced

Extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Pepper

An herb blend, such as Herbes de Provence (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut eggplant, zucchinis and squash into ½-inch sized cubes. Toss them with halved tomatoes, diced bell peppers, whole garlic cloves and sliced onion with about 4 tablespoons olive oil, a big pinch each of salt and pepper, and Herbes de Provence. The vegetables should all be well-covered in oil.

Pile the vegetables onto a large baking sheet or dish. Make sure the vegetables are crowded into a layer about 2 inches thick.

Place baking sheet in the center of the oven and roast until the vegetables have slumped into each other, reducing in size and softening. This should take about 45 minutes or up to an hour. Stir the vegetables once about halfway through.

Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to several days.

Serves 4 to 6.

Source: adapted from Luisa Weiss via www.thewednesdaychef.com

A simple way to roast summer's best vegetables 09/02/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 2, 2013 4:26pm]
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