Did you know there are people out there who have never roasted vegetables? Not an onion, a carrot nor a single clove of garlic? I know, I feel bad for them too.
When I was in New York for Thanksgiving, I found out my own mother was one of these people – and not just her, but my sister too (gasp!). This post will show you how truly simple it is to roast rich, caramelized veggies for a side to your fish or as a meal in itself. And if you already know how to roast, stick around, you may learn something…
A few quick tips: 1. Dry your vegetables thoroughly with a clean cotton cloth. 2. Cut them about the same size. 3. Pre-heat your baking sheet.
Drying your vegetables will help crisp them on the outside while staying soft on the inside. After washing roll them up in a clean towel and pat dry. Next, cut your vegetables about the same size. The smaller you cut them, the faster they’ll roast. I cut the veggies for this dish a little bigger than an inch.
While you’re chopping, pre-heat your baking sheet in a 425F oven. Pre-heating not only speeds up the roasting process, it helps your veggies cook evenly.
You can season your vegetables with a variety of herbs, like rosemary, thyme or oregano, but I usually stick with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Throw your chopped veggies in a large bowl, coat with olive oil and seasonings, and toss to make sure every last morsel is covered.
When you put your veggies on the hot sheet, keep them in a single layer and do not crowd, no matter how tempting it may be. I know you have way too many vegetables to fit on one sheet. I know you’re hungry and want to roast every drop in that big bowl. That’s why you pre-heat two baking sheets instead one. Too many veggies means they’ll steam instead of roast, and you’ll get a tray full of floppy carrots.
Roasting times vary depending on the size of your vegetables, so keep your oven light on and take a peek once in a while. Smaller pieces can roast in 15 minutes.
Roasted Vegetables with Pancetta and Balsamic Sauce
(Thoroughly dry your vegetables before chopping)
3 carrots, chopped into 2 inch pieces
3 cippolini onions, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
2 red fingerling potatoes, unpeeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, stalks removed and chopped into 2 inch pieces
2 baby zucchini, chopped into 2 inch pieces
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 pound slab pancetta, cut into 1 inch pieces (be sure to get a slab, not sliced)
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven and two baking sheets to 425F.
Add all of your chopped vegetables to a bowl, and pour in about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. Toss to evenly coat.
When your sheets are hot, slide an even amount of vegetables onto each sheet, in a single layer. Make sure vegetables aren’t touching one another.
Roast for 10 minutes. Add pancetta to both sheets and continuing roasting for another 15 minutes. Shake one time while roasting to prevent vegetables from sticking.
While vegetables are cooking, heat up balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan on medium-low heat. Cook for 20 minutes, until it reduced by half. The vinegar should thickly coat the pan when sauce is ready.
When vegetables are done, transfer to a dish and drizzle on a tad more olive oil and sea salt. Serve balsamic sauce on the side.
Where I Shopped:
All of my vegetables this week are from Star Grocery in Berkeley. Star has quickly become my favorite neighborhood grocer because they stock local, organic produce, and they can tell you which farms it came from. The homemade, wine-soaked pancetta is from the butcher in the back of the store, who rolled it earlier in the day.