We keep trying to incorporate more vegetables into our diet. I’ve given up trying for the eleven or twelve fruits and vegetables recommended by some experts. I like vegetables, but the thought of preparing, cooking, eating that many in one day, kind of puts me off the whole idea. I’m going for four or five, and that’s counting a glass of tomato juice or V8 in the morning.
I know the key is variety and portion control. We are told to try for as many colors per day as possible. You could have a carrot at lunch, a sandwich with tomato slices and a few leaves of lettuce – dark green or green and red, please. That gives you three vegetables, maybe. Then at dinner, a salad with a mix of greens, maybe a little spinach thrown in, some bell peppers – they are available red, yellow, orange, purple, and of course, green. That gives you two more for a total of five. Throw in some broccoli, and that’s six. Have some cantaloupe, an apple, or a handful of berries for breakfast or as a snack, and that’s seven, nine if you go for all three fruits. An orange in the morning or a banana and you have your eleven.
I don’t know about you, but that’s more than I want to eat. Just the fruits and vegetables alone would make me full. Forget the meat, dairy, and carbohydrates. But then again, that’s the whole agenda-driven idea behind the dietary recommendations of many activist-nutritionists these days. I tell them, go for it! Just don’t expect me to follow your regime.
Anyway, any time I can combine several vegetables into one dish and make enough to have leftovers, I am happy to do so. For Thanksgiving dinner, we serve winter vegetables that have marinated for several hours, and then been roasted for almost an hour. It’s very good and with a few substitutions here and there, we make the same thing during the summer and cook it on the grill. Tastes great and we chalk up a few more vegetables on our daily diet scorecard.
Here’s the recipe. Feel free to substitute other winter vegetables, keeping in mind that some take longer to cook than others. At the bottom of the recipe I will list the vegetables that we use in the summer or whenever they are available.
ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES
3-5 carrots, in 3/4″ chunks
1 sweet potato, peeled, in 3/4″ chunks (optional when serving other sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving)
2 parsnips, in 3/4″ chunks
1 turnip, in 3/4″ chunks
2 red onions, halved crosswise and cut in 1″ wedges
1 1/2 lb. mushroom caps, wiped clean and stemmed
1-2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
3 T. olive oil, or canola
2 t. Kosher salt
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, about 1-2 tablespoons, optional
1. Combine all the vegetables, except the garlic*, in a large bowl.
2. Mix the oil and vinegar in a small bowl or cup. Pour over the vegetables and toss. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and toss again.
3. Let marinate for a couple of hours, with a stir now and then. (Can be put into plastic food storage bag(s) and turned over a few times and kept in the frig overnight. Don’t forget to prepare the garlic cloves which can be marinated separately or left plain.)
4. Set oven to 425. Spread vegies on a large rimmed baking sheet in one layer. Roast in oven, shaking the pan every 10-15 minutes, for about 50 minutes. Add the garlic to the vegetables after the first 20 minutes.
5. The vegies are done when they turn a toasty caramel color and are fork tender. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot or at room temperature.
* the garlic will burn if cooked for the whole time with the other vegetables.
In the summer, the vegetables we use are red onions, zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, bell peppers cut in l” squares, with cherry tomatoes added the last 5 minutes on the grill. We have a grill “wok” without which, we would lose more vegetables than eat. We sometimes change the marinade, replacing the balsamic vinegar with lime juice and adding a teaspoon or so of soy sauce. Garlic falls through the holes in the wok so we don’t use whole cloves but mince a few cloves and mix with the marinade. These vegetables cook more quickly than the winter ones, so we don’t use a very hot grill and stir the vegetables a few times during the cooking (about 10-20 minutes) to prevent the great carmelization from turning into burning.
I like both versions which really are totally different. We occasionally roast the “summer version” inside in the oven if the weather turns ugly.