One day a couple of friends found a Rusted Root CD in the street. Just lying there. Unclaimed and unloved.
They picked it up and thought: Score! Free CD!
It was the mid-nineties and along with a fondness for baggy jeans (slit at the ankle to properly cover the Doc Martin. Duh.), the friends were fond of a song on the album:
Well, kind of. It was all right. They wouldn’t turn it off it came on or anything. But it’s not like they jumped up to hit record on the boom box to capture it on their latest radio mix tape with as little annoying DJ talk over the music as possible.
They brought the CD in the house, all set to pretend like they knew the words before the chorus and sing along (No, seriously. What are the words? That’s not English, right? That’s what I thought…)
The CD wouldn’t play. Scratched. Sliding across concrete does that to things.
The disappointment was palpable for about 3 seconds. So much for free music. (For all you youngsters out there, no, Napster had not been invented yet.)
And then the friends went off in search of candy. Or something similar.
Now for the shocking plot twist: I was one of those friends.
The roots in the recipe below are not rusted. That would require a side of tetanus shots, which would not be good for anyone. But they are roasted, which turns some ho-hum, forgettable vegetables into little gems of golden brown deliciousness. That’s good for everyone. Even for people who swear they don’t like vegetables.
I served up this smorgasbord of dirt-dwelling delights at my Project Food Blog luxury dinner party a few weeks back. They were a huge hit. They were also a huge pain in the…ass.
There, I said it. Don’t tattle on me now.
Kidding. They’re not that bad. Although if you don’t like breaking out your biggest, baddest, sharpest knife and hacking away at tough, dirt-covered balls of frustration perhaps this recipe isn’t for you. Celery root. Rutabagas. Leeks.
I feared for the safety of my fingers.
BUT! It is all worth it in the end. These little nuggets are a little bit sweet, a little bit savory and all warm and satisfying. There is something about slightly crunchy, deeply caramelized vegetables that just soothes the heart and soul as the cold weather sets in. My guests really enjoyed them. Even Eric, Mr. Veggie Hater himself. These would be a delightful addition to any holiday table. Make ahead and then just toss back in the oven for 15 minutes or so and serve.
The prep here, once you get past cutting the tough skin away from your celery and washing the weird waxy coating off your parsnips, is really simple. Toss the cut vegetables with a bit of olive oil, season liberally (and I mean liberally…you’ve got a ton of food here) with salt and pepper), toss with fresh rosemary and throw in the oven. Now, the recipe calls for adding whole cloves of garlic to the roasting pans about halfway through the roasting time. I ended up removing them from the finished product because I didn’t think anyone would want to crunch down on them. The garlic flavor was pretty subtle. I’m sure if you wanted a more intense flavor, you could mince the garlic and add as the veggies near the end of their time in the oven. Otherwise, the small flecks of garlic will burn and taste bitter.
ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES WITH FRESH ROSEMARY (Recipe Source: Bon Appetit, December 2001 via Epicurious.com)
Note: This recipe makes a TON and serves about 8 generously. Feel free to scale back to meet your needs.
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled
- Position 1 rack in bottom third of oven and 1 rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Spray 2 heavy large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic in very large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between prepared sheets. Place 1 sheet on each oven rack. Roast 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reverse positions of baking sheets. Add 5 garlic cloves to each baking sheet.
- Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 45 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let stand on baking sheets at room temperature. Rewarm in 450°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.)
- Transfer roasted vegetables to large bowl and then serve.