Roasting vegetables came on the culinary scene more than 20 years ago, and it still remains one of my favorite ways to cook. My culinary buddy, Barbara Kafka, wrote the award-winning and definitive tome on roasting in 1995. It remains a classic and tells how to roast almost anything. I also loved her statement that “Recipes are ways of getting people to cook, eat together, have pleasure, learn and adopt. Recipes are not eternal, nor do I think that I own them.”
I love to roast vegetables, and it is almost embarrassingly easy. The high heat seals in the flavors lost when boiling them. (I grew up on overcooked, boiled vegetables, so I am somewhat an expert on the wrong way to cook them.)
Now there are some, but not many, boiled vegetables, green beans among them, that when cooked until gray with bacon and onions are actually quite tasty. However, the vast majority of fresh veggies taste amazing when roasted. They caramelize and morph into something completely different.
My girls, when young, decided they didn’t like carrots, but when roasted, they decided they loved them. I used to keep a big bag of baby carrots (the nomenclature annoys me because they are not baby carrots, just big ones peeled down) and toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and sometimes garlic on a large baking sheet. Place in a 425-degree oven and roast until really soft and caramelized.
Slow roasting tomatoes produces a wonderfully versatile dish. Use as a side dish, on a salad or eat cold the next day with a few slices of mozzarella, crumbled feta or ricotta.
6 to 8 large ripe tomatoes or use Roma type
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, sliced
A handful of basil leaves (optional but really good)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Core the tomatoes, cut in half and season cut halves with salt and pepper.
Place tomatoes cut side up in one layer in shallow baking dish. Pour about 1 cup olive oil evenly over the tomatoes and scatter garlic and basil, tucking them in around the halves.
Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the oil.
The tomatoes should just barely hold their shape. Remove from oven, let sit in olive oil for 30 minutes before serving or let cool in oil to room temperature. You can save the flavored oil and use in a salad dressing or for cooking vegetables.
I used to do this a lot when catering for a large group. It can be made hours ahead, then warmed for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Just remember to remove the pineapple from the pan so it won’t stick. Rich vanilla ice cream makes a terrific counterpoint.
1 pineapple, about 2½ pounds
1/3 cup dark rum (I use Meyers)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar: don’t use light brown, the results will not be the same.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Prepare pineapple, peel, core and cut into quarters, then into four pieces.
Combine rum and dark brown sugar, and dip pineapple into the glaze.
Place on a shallow baking sheet pan, drizzle with remaining glaze and let sit for 30 minutes. Roast for about 15 minutes.