I’m about to get fresh with you

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:

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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!

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  • 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.

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  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can crank it up to 375 if you’ve got tons of dense vegetables.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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):

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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:

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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.

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13 Comments to “I’m about to get fresh with you”

  1. Good heavens girl, you are just……..well awesome ! (haha, lets say something ORIGINAL 🙂 no coffee on board yet) I continue to be impressed by you. Recipe ? Template ? Whatever, you have a gift !

    Now let’s address that ARM photo, yes, with you tinkering with the color did the job – I was seriously concerned……at first ! Hope your arm is fine now.

    I am really enjoying your blog, loved your Halloween costume/makeup directions as well.

    Our Trader Joes is about 75 miles away, so I make due with Safeway – which is about due to have me get there to pick up some soon-to-be-roasted root veggies next !


  2. i want to order from a place like that here in baltimore! i’ll have to look one up. everything looks so fresh and delicioussss 🙂

  3. You arm looks like a halloween decoration! Don’t play with us like that. That coloring coupled with the way you laid you photographed your arm makes it look like it’s two seconds away from being chopped off! I always want to hurt things that hurt me but their, you know, inanimate and it’s never satisfying.

    The recipe looks yummy. I never know what to do with potatoes so I stay away but I’m going to try this on for size. fo’ sho’.

  4. yum yum! that looks deeeeeelicious 🙂 Do you just eat the veggies straight up or put em on top of a salad/rice?

    We’ve got a little delivery service where I live too, but I can never justify ordering from them since I like going to the grocery store ….although not recently as the lettuce I bought yesterday was supposed to be eaten by last FRIDAY. I’d say there’s high probability of a grocery delivery service in my future thanks to wilted veggie/moldy tomato’s shopping trips lately.

    • We ate the veggies straight out of the serving dish, but you could serve them with wild rice, or put on some crusty bread and top with some mozzarella cheese and make a panini, OR (and I learned this on Fresh Picks) you could toss them into an omelet or scramble and have them for breakfast. I’ll have to do one of those things in the future, when I figure out how to keep myself from wolfing the whole dish down before it even gets to the dinner table.

  5. Holy shit, your arm looks positively LIFELESS (and I would know) . . . way to be dramatic! Especially on the (what looks like) marble slab. Happy Halloween indeed. And I personally like the way you do your recipes (3 goodly glugs) ’cause that’s the way I cook, so it makes sense. Don’t go changin’ . . .

  6. I’ve been looking for something like that near Chicago. Thanks for the link!

  7. I drooled a little bit at the mention of tossing the veggies into an egg scramble. De.Li.Cious.

    I tried the balsamic brussel sprouts this weekend, and they were ridiculously delightful. High five!

  8. You have perfect timing for this and the brussel sprouts recipe. I’m probably not the only person who ate a few pieces (or maybe it was pounds) of Halloween candy last week. 🙂 Now, I’m ready for veggies! An added bonus to the delivery sounds like more time for a busy girl such as yourself because you can skip the line at the grocery store. I’m going to search for a similar place in Seattle to try this out.

  9. That sounds like an awesome company! Fresh fruits and veggies delivered right to you?? Works for me!

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