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Experiment: Roast Vegetables

I love roasted vegetables. It is an easy way to cook as long as you observe a few simple principles and the results are always tasty and very nutritious (unlike boiling them, for example, where a lot of the goodness gets tossed out with the water). For Easter, this year, I was roasting a leg of Lamb and chose my vegetables and cooking times so as to be able to do them in the oven at the same time as the meat… 

Dense root vegetables are particularly well suited to roasting and I always cook potatoes and carrots as part of the mix along with either leek or big chunks of onion. I often include tomatoes (although not this time) and mushrooms work especially well as long as you add them later on in the process and not at the same time as the heavier ingredients.

Generally, root vegetables will do well at temperatures from about 375 to 475 degrees and, depending on your oven, take an hour or so to cook. I was roasting my Easter lamb for an hour and a half, with the last hour at 400 degrees, and that last hour suited this dish perfectly. The only other rule you need to remember is to make sure the vegetables are not overly crowded in the pan otherwise they will steam rather than caramelize (which is where the best of the flavor comes from) and they also may not cook evenly.

The Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs. small potatoes
  • 2 stalks Leeks
  • 2 Carrots
  • Handful of Button Mushrooms
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp. Rosemary
  • 1 tsp. Sage
  • 1 tsp. Salt (not shown)

You can use more herbs and garlic as you see fit and, if you like, you can put whole cloves of garlic in with the vegetables. Personally, I find that when garlic is roasted whole it takes on a slightly oily taste so I will be slicing mine.

The Method

Peel the carrots and then cut them and the leeks into one-inch chunks. Slice the garlic thinly and cut the potatoes into halves. Put all the vegetables except the mushrooms into a bowl and toss with a quarter cup of the oil, 1 teaspoon of the pepper and the salt and dried herbs. Put the mushrooms in another bowl with the remaining oil and pepper. Set both bowls aside and let then marinate for at least a half hour.

 When you are ready to cook the vegetables, spread the ones from large bowl across the bottom a roasting pan that is big enough so that the vegetables are not jammed up against each other. Put them into a 400-degree oven and let them roast, stirring occasionally for a half-hour. Add the mushrooms, stir again, and let them finish cooking for another thirty minutes.

The Verdict

As long as you are reasonably careful, it is very hard to mess up roast vegetables. These turned out as good as always and the mix was very pleasant. Leeks always work well and together with the carrots add just a nice sweetness to the potatoes. A little more of the dried herb might have been better but otherwise these were excellent.

Comments, thoughts or suggestions most welcome...

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