By Crystal Futrell
When I was a little girl, my friends, siblings and even parents found it odd that I LOVED vegetables.
Steamed broccoli (without cheese), supple and moist (not slimy) stewed okra, crisp cooked green beans (without bacon to cover up the fresh flavor of the beans), and raw white onion were some of my favorites.
But while I adored these delicious items, I noticed that I didn’t adore them all the time, especially when trying to eat them at school or at friends’ houses. What I didn’t understand at that tender age is that preparation is key.
How we treat vegetables, just like people in many ways, really affects how they treat us in return. Most foods are this way, but vegetables in particular aren’t quick to forgive wrongful acts of ill preparation.
So, what’s a home cook to do? We’re told we should eat more vegetables, but if we don’t know how to treat them, and don’t like the foul-tasting consequences of ill-treated vegetables, then how do we overcome this situation?
Thankfully, there is a simple panacea. It’s called roasting.
Anyone with access to an oven, a baking sheet, a tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper can manage this practice. It’s amazing what roasting does to vegetables. The flavors melt and caramelize at the same time creating an earthy syrupiness that’s both savory and sweet and utterly delectable.
Almost any vegetables can be roasted. Initially, I thought one might not want to roast things like leafy greens, but while sipping my morning coffee today and perusing a cookbook, I found a recipe for roasted, quartered, heads of cabbage.
The process for roasting is simple. Here’s a recipe from Iowa State Extension:
• 5 cups assorted vegetable pieces (cut in chunks) (potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, turnips, carrots, onions, mushrooms)
• 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)
• 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
• 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Heat oven to 425ºF.
2. Line a 9”x13” pan with aluminum foil.
3. Spread vegetables in pan. Sprinkle oil on vegetables. Stir. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, pepper and salt. Stir.
4. Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Turn every 15 minutes.
5. Serve while hot.
• Use thyme, basil or rosemary in place of dried Italian seasoning.
• Save energy. Roast vegetables in oven with other food or right after other food is done.
Crystal Futrell is the health and food safety agent at the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Office