Literally. Roasting isn't just for winter Sunday dinners anymore! I think roasting is about the easiest -- and tastiest! -- way to enjoy foods from any season.
This month, I've been focusing on roasting vegetables. I've put everything in that oven, from your standard fare (root veggies, Brussels sprouts, etc.) to the strange and unthinkable (radishes and even spinach -- check out the recipe below!). Roasting tends to bring out a vegetable's sweetness, so it's especially good for those that tend to be a bit bitter. Roasted Brussels sprouts drizzled with just a touch of browned butter, sea salt and chopped pecans makes an amazingly simple and light side dish that will impress your dinner guests -- even if you serve it with some summery grilled chicken! Roasting cauliflower is my favorite way to prepare it, and it couldn't be easier. One of my best new discoveries is roasted cabbage. If you haven't tried it, you must...TONIGHT. Simply cut cabbage into wedges (aim for about 8 wedges from a whole head), mist with olive oil or spray butter, sprinkle with salt, and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, flipping the wedges over halfway through cooking. They'll start to brown, but that's the best part!
In fact, roasting just about any vegetable is just that simple. Mist or lightly toss with just a touch of oil and sprinkle with salt/pepper/garlic powder/anything that fits the flavor profile of your dinner (Indian flavors, Asian flavors, Spanish flavors...you get the idea). Heartier veggies like carrots and other root vegetables should roast for about 30-45 minutes at about 400 degrees. I do cabbage and Brussels sprouts at this temperature, too, but I cut the cooking time to 20-30 minutes. If you want to be brave and try a more fragile veggie like the recipe below, I would suggest 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes. You have to play with your food (ha ha!) and see what works for you!
So last week I got adventurous and tried to create some healthy snacking options to satisfy my salty/crunchy cravings. Obviously, potato chips and pretzels don't fit into The Svelte Gourmet basics. I tried a bunch of things -- "chips" made of very thin slices of carrots, radishes and even eggplant. They were tasty, but the "Spinach Chips" experiment really knocked my socks off.
Roasting spinach?! Was I crazy?! Evidently not -- I can't tell you how to package and store these, as not one of the batches I made was around long enough to put away. Even the kids gobbled them up! As you know, I always have a bag of spinach on hand for The Svelte Gourmet Signature Salad we eat nightly. So I decided to throw some on a baking sheet to see what would happen. I opted to mist them with white truffle oil for a bit of indulgence -- WOW, was that worth it! The truffle flavor hits you almost as an afterthought..."hmmm....did I just have truffles? I think I did!" SO good. You can buy truffle oil in most high end grocery stores and specialty food or kitchen stores. Starting at around $15/bottle, it's a far cry from the $900/pound truffle itself! Yikes! And a little goes a LONG way. Oh, and these "Spinach Chips" would also make a tasty and very impressive garnish for your next dinner party! The paper-thin crisps almost melt in your mouth and the flavor is amazing.
White truffle oil
Toss spinach leaves with a few drops/sprays of white truffle oil. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet (they won't lay flat) and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast at 300 for about 15 minutes. Within minutes, the spinach leaves will wilt and flatten to the pan, but that's ok. When you take them out, gently remove them from the pan before they cool and become too crispy and fragile. Bon appetit!
The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses cookbook is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html. Enjoy!