A couple of weeks ago, I got a text from Aunt Kathy that read:
OMG, been eating squash for only a week and already tired of it! Anybody have recipe suggestions?
Of course, since this was a group text the rest of the evening was spent with my cousin (who lives in IL) and I trying to convince our aunt to ship us some of the delicious veggies from her plentiful garden. Additionally, everyone was swapping the various ways that we all love to eat our squash, each of us trying to out-recipe the other. In my humble opinion, Aunt Kathy won that challenge with her suggestion of deep frying them, then topping them with parmesan cheese and serving with a blue cheese dipping sauce. BTW, if you’re not drooling at this, then you are definitely NOT from Texas or any sort of Southern state. OR you’re crazy. Because that’s just delicious!
Still, I can see where it would get old. Mainly in the prep work. Proper deep frying is tedious. And hot. And slightly dangerous.
That’s why these days, I prefer roasting. Please note: while I love to eat fried foods, I was never a deep frying kinda girl because, well, it is tedious and hot and slightly dangerous! I will, quite literally, roast almost any type of vegetable. Why? Because it’s tasty and easy and tasty, but most of all easy. If you think that you don’t like a particular veggie or are wanting to branch out in your veggie consumption, I would highly recommend roasting as it helps make all veggies (except perhaps celery) taste better. I completely give my friend Ann all of the credit because prior to living with Ann, I pretty much stuck to roasting meat and a few veggies to put in soups. Why? Not sure. It seems rather silly and small minded now that I think about it. But I have amended my roasting ways and now I consider myself a bit of a roasting aficionado (self-proclaimed, of course!).
I like to roast my veggies at 400F (about 200C)–it’s hot enough to give them that crispy crunch without worrying about burning them…unless you completely forget you’re roasting something and the smoke detector reminds you. Not that I’ve ever done that, of course…ha ha ha…ahem.
Then you just wash and chop some veggies, coat them generously with olive oil, add some seasoning and bake for about 40 minutes. Viola! Deliciously sweet and crisp veggies with no fuss and lots of flavor! A word of advice: the more hearty the veggie is, the longer the cooking time, which you only really need to think about when mixing your roasted veggies, like in the recipe below, or if you want to serve roasted potatoes and are trying to time your meal prep so that dinner is served at one time. Speaking of, potatoes are also in the recipe below, which I found in one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegetables from an Italian Garden. Of course, as per me, I immediately tweaked it (what? It needed more garlic!)!
Roasted Zucchini, Potatoes, and Tomatoes (or if you wanna be uber-fancy: Zucchine, Patate E Pomodori Al Forno):
- 4 potatoes cut into chunks
- 1 onion cut into chunks
- 1 head of garlic
- Olive Oil
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 3 zucchinis cut into chunks
- 4-5 Roma tomatoes, quartered
- salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, add potatoes, half of the rosemary (don’t measure–just eyeball it!), a bit of salt & pepper and drizzle olive oil on top. Lightly toss together until potatoes are covered with olive oil. Put in a baking dish (which, in theory, you would have gotten out of the cupboard before you got your hands all olive oily!), put into the oven and roast for 40 minutes. While the potatoes are happily hanging out in the oven, put the onions, zucchini, and tomatoes into your bowl. Add the remaining rosemary, a bit more salt & pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Again, toss together until everything is well coated in olive oil and spices. Cut off the top of the head of garlic and sprinkle with a dash of salt & pepper. After about 40 minutes, pull the potatoes out of the oven. To the potatoes, add the onion, zucchini, tomato mixture and then make a place for garlic head to sit on the bottom of the pan, cut side up. Drizzle a bit of olive oil inside the garlic and then pop the dish back in the oven (which hopefully you did not turn off!). Roast for another 20 minutes or until all the veggies are tender and slightly charred (be warned–less hearty veggies like tomatoes easily turn to mush–so keep an eye on them!). Once you’ve removed the pan from the oven, CAREFULLY remove head of garlic and with a small fork in one hand and towel/hot pad/tongs holding the head of garlic in your other hand remove the cloves from the casings. Mix the garlic back in with the veggies and dig in!
Of course, you can use any veggie medley you’d like (squash perhaps?). And if you have an aversion to rosemary *cough* April *cough* then you could substitute another aromatic herb, like thyme, or just stick with good ol’ salt & pepper.
And before you complain about the hour baking time–just know it gives you plenty of time to quality control the wine you want to serve with it, like a nice Viognier, Vouvray, or even a buttery Chardonnay!