When asked to reveal my favorite book, Roget’s Thesaurus, I sometimes cringe thinking about the sibling who sits beside it on my bookshelf. A dictionary.
Although incredibly useful—and a resource I use with more frequency than breaths in a day, I often find them dry and uninspiring.
For instance, read the definition for roast as described by Webster-Merriam.
: to cook by exposing to dry heat (as in an oven or before a fire) or by surrounding with hot embers, sand, or stones
: to dry and parch by exposure to heat
: to heat to excess
Truly lackluster if you’re hoping to sell it for dinner fare.
When I see or hear the word roast, it conjures images of food that has caramelized, transformed to a state of sticky sweetness, browned to the point where crisp skins are blistered and have released complex flavors and aromas. I’d deflate if the aim was to “dry and parch” something.
Being winter, according to the calendar and not the weather, it’s time to hunker down with chunks of roasting meat and beefy stews—unless you’re in charge of feeding a vegetarian. So to be fair, I offer up those same flavors and scents to appease the whole family and not displease the one who cannot eat anything that once had a face.
Roasted Root Vegetables with a side of Forbidden Black Rice
1 red onion, cut into 8 segments
2 small beets, peeled and cut into quarters
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch pieces
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 3 inch pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced into 2 inch chunks
A few glugs of olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tsp Thyme
½ cup walnuts
2 ounces feta cheese
1 – Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss all prepared veg with the olive oil, S&P and thyme in a large roasting pan. Roast for 45-50 minutes, turning every 15-20 minutes until the edges are crisp and browning.
2 – While the veg are roasting, roughly chop the walnuts and spread on a small baking sheet. Tuck into the oven above the vegetables and toast till golden – 6 to7 minutes.
3 – When the veg are finished, sprinkle with the nuts and give them a toss. Top with the feta and serve with a smile.
Forbidden Black Rice
Black as new potting soil raw, and deep purple when cooked, this rice has a deep nutty flavor and is incredibly versatile.
Combine 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, 1 cup black rice, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Bring to a boil over high heat.
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes.
Fluff and serve beside the roasted veg.