7 December 2014

Why Roasting your Veg for Christmas Dinner is Such a Good Idea!

Like everyone we are, of course, stocking up food for Christmas and my real man is, to be frank, going right over the top!  He loves Christmas, mainly because of the food, and he is also a very traditional guy wanting everything his “Mam used to make”. So we not only have cupboards full of nuts and dates and chocolate and marzipan and so, and not only is he making his own trifle (he won’t risk my doing something fancy to it) but Christmas dinner will be, you know, the usual.  In detail ...
Roast Turkey
Homemade Stuffing
Bread Sauce
Sausagemeat
Mashed Potatoes
Veggies
Gravy
Cranberry Sauce
... and possibly Mushy Peas – I haven’t checked with him on this yet!

I, on the other hand, am not a huge meat eater (and turkeys are made of meat) and like excitement and contrast in my meals so roasting my veggies is the go for me.

Roasting vegetables ...

~   Makes them crisp and crunchy,
~   Caramelises their juice in a wonderful way,
~   Intensifies their flavour,
~   Can be seasoned with whatever you fancy – garlic or spice or whatever,
~   Brightens their colours for a fab looking meal,
~   Can be cooked alongside the meat so don’t need much last minute attention.  

The Basics

~   In short you prepare your vegetables, cut them into similar sized pieces, toss with a little olive oil, season to taste and roast at 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6 or thereabouts till crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
~   Don’t overcrowd the pan too much – you need dry heat to crisp the edges, it they are too close together the vegetables will steam.
~   If you want to speed things up a bit cover the dish with foil and cook till the veggies are tender and then remove the foil and perhaps up the heat a little to brown and crispen.

Some ideas ...

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Onion and Chilli

1 medium butternut squash
1 medium red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
chilli flakes to taste (or maybe black pepper instead)
sea salt

~   Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6.
~   Peel the squash, cut in half, discard the seeds and cut the flesh into large dice – about 25mm/1 inch.
~   Peel the onion and cut into slivers.
~   Toss the squash and onion together with the olive oil, chilli flakes and sea salt.
~   Spread in a shallow layer in a roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes till completely tender and the onion is just starting to char. 
~   Stir occasionally during cooking and if any onions slivers seem to be getting overcooked before the squash is ready set them aside and stir back in at the end.


roasted-butternut-squash

Leftovers are great tossed with pasta or as a pizza topping.

Roasted Carrots

This is a particularly good way to cook little Chantenay carrots. Just follow the basic guidelines above.
roasted-carrots

Click here for some other good ways to use these little darlings, and ...

Honeyed Roasted Parsnips

Same again really but about 10 minutes before they are ready to serve drizzle in a little honey, roll the parsnips in the sticky juices and return to the oven for the final few minutes.  Maple syrup works well too here depending on what you are serving them with.
roasted-parsnips


Or try a mix of your favourite veggies all together, so long as they are similarly sized and inclined to cook in the same amount of time you won’t go far wrong. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, red onion and butternut squash is a pretty and delicious combination.

Root vegetables do roast most marvellous well but so do others veggies, for instance ...

Brussels Sprouts (and Bacon)

roasted-brussel-sprouts
Brussels sprouts often seem to be for display purposes only!  Many people want them on the plate at Christmas but then leave them. Roasting helps them to get eaten. 

Prepare the sprouts as usual, removing any yellowish leaves, halve or quarter if they are large, toss with olive oil, season and roast at the usual temperature shaking from time to time for about 35 to 40 minutes till tender and crusty.  Bacon goes awfully well with these so perhaps fry some bacon strips till crispy (you can do this hours in advance) and toss them with the sprouts for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Black pepper is good too.

Roasted Cauliflower 

This was a revelation to me which I posted about here. The cauliflower was transformed and became sweet, nutty and fascinating. 


roasted-cauliflower

The first time I tried this I sliced the cauli and it does look impressive but florets work well this way too. 


In Other News ...

easy-festive-food-for-a-stress-free-christmas-suzy-bowler
I would, of course, just like to mention my Christmas book!

Catering for Christmas can be time consuming, tiring and a bit stressy, so I thought I’d offer some suggestions to make it quicker, easier, more relaxed and perhaps more impressive!















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1 comment:

Attila said...

Thanks for the ideas; we had some heated up roast beef for dinner this evening and I roasted some parsnips and some vert elderly sprouts in the oven, without bacon, fabulous!