So now that I’ve got a job AND I’m in business school, I have zero time for anything unless it starts with “online” and ends with “shopping.” Obviously this has started to take its toll on my eating habits – a month ago I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I consumed a fresh vegetable. I’m sure some of you were crying yourselves to sleep at night over my sad lack of cooking posts. It’s okay. This is a safe place. You can admit it.
I realized something had to change, so I went online and found my new best friends: Irv and Shelly. They run Fresh Picks, a family-owned business here in Chicago that works with 60 local farms to deliver fresh produce to our doorsteps. They have a weekly Fresh Picks box featuring whatever is in-season, or you can pick and choose the items you’d like to have delivered. Fresh Picks can also organic non-local products, like avocados and pineapples, so if you absolutely MUST MAKE GUACAMOLE RIGHT NOW OR YOU’LL DIE, you can count on them. AND they’re no more expensive than my local grocery store. AND they send a weekly newsletter with seasonal recipes in it! So booyah. I’m a changed woman. Here’s a little slice of this week’s delivery:
And that’s not even a third of it! We got fresh basil, homemade strawberry yogurt, a pumpkin, green onions, cranberry & pepper crackers, grape tomatoes, green beans, honey crisp apples…I’m getting a lump in my throat just writing about it. Seriously, folks, if you’re in Chicago you must try them – especially if you do most of your shopping at Trader Joe’s, where the produce is vomitously tasteless and pale. Oh, and by the way – I did something incredible with the veggies you see above. See, I sorta went overboard on this week’s order…everything looked so good!…and we ended up with about 10 pounds of root vegetables and no clue what to do with them.
I actually made up my own recipe! It was divine, if I do say so myself. Without further ado, I give you…..
Wiggs’s Roasted Freak-Out!
- Any root vegetables you’ve got. The batch I made included two sweet potatoes, about five smaller yellow potatoes, four HUGE radishes, one leek, 1 red bell pepper, 2 white onions, and 1 butternut squash.
- Honey – probably about three tablespoons per large bowlful of chopped vegetables, but you can seeeeriously eyeball it
- Balsamic vinegar – maybe…uh…5 tablespoons? I don’t know. Eyeball it again.
- Olive oil – three goodly glugs, perhaps?
- Salt and pepper – eyeballed
- Optional: about 2 tablespoons of butter, thinly thinly sliced (you want about five or six thin pieces)
- Chopped fresh parsley (or any other fresh herb you’ve got hanging around)
Typing this out, I’m realizing that I might not be able to take that much credit for the recipe, since I didn’t really measure anything. And you can substitute whatever ingredients you want. Maybe this is more of a template than a recipe. Oh well.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can crank it up to 375 if you’ve got tons of dense vegetables.
- Wash and cut up all of your veggies, making sure that the slower-roasting things (potatoes, carrots if you’ve got ’em, radishes) are smaller than faster-roasting items (onions, garlic, bell pepper). All in all, my potatoes were roughly 1/2-inch cubes (well, polyhedrons) and my onions and peppers were 1-inch chunks. Also, I left alllll of the skins on – even my sweet potatoes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Taste it – it should have a healthy bite to it from the vinegar, with a sweet finish from the honey. You can see above that I made enough of the mixture to coat the vegetables evenly.
- Pour that shizz all over the veggies, stir them around, and spread them evenly in an oven-safe rectangular dish. I ended up making two batches at once – one in a porcelain dish and one in a metal dish – and I couldn’t tell the difference.
- Evenly space the thinly sliced butter on top of the veggies. The purpose of the butter is to give the vegetables a teensy bit of a crust (also everything tastes better with butter). That said, you could omit it if you’re trying to watch your figure.
- Stick the dish into the oven. After 30 minutes, take it out, give everything a stir, and put it back in. I ended up leaving my veggies in for another half hour, but you should keep an eye on things to make sure nothing’s burning. My onions and peppers got a little black, but they still tasted bomb-dot-com. And I don’t use that term lightly, since it’s so embarrassing to say (or type) out loud.
- When your densest veggie – probably potato – is cooked through (you can tell this by poking a piece with a fork or by tasting it and burning the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of your mouth), you’re done. Take the dish out of the oven and immediately garnish with your freshly chopped herb. I learned that trick in the Fresh Picks newsletter – the hot, roasted vegetables steam the herb and get infused with its flavor.
And then…ohhhh man, people, see how long you can resist getting out a funnel and force-feeding yourself. It’s so good. The balsamic vinegar and honey reduce to a tangy, delicious syrup, and the vegetables blend together to flavor each other. Observe (unfortunately, the sun had gone down by the time I took the dish out of the oven, so I had to use my terrible kitchen light. The dish was much prettier in person):
If you have leftovers, store in an airtight container in the fridge. You COULD reheat your roasted veggies in the microwave, but if you plan ahead you can just spread them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 10 minutes on 250 degrees – that way they’ll crisp up again.
I should note that, in keeping with my devotion and love for you, I injured myself while taking a picture of the finished product. My stainless steel baking dish was still 300+ degrees, and I ended up resting my arm on one of the handles. Don’t say I never did anything for you:
Okay, I’m being a little bit of a drama queen – I messed with the saturation and contrast to make my burn (and therefore my veins and splotches that I never noticed before but am now very self conscious about) stand out more. But you wouldn’t have felt as sorry for me if I showed you the original.