One of the best things about being a member of culinary groups is the people you have the opportunity to meet. Of course we are always thrilled when we get to see and meet celebrities such as chefs, television stars, and cookbook authors, but for me it is the friends I make that is the true measure of value.
Last year the annual IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference was held in San Francisco. The organizers needed help with one of the sessions being held off-site and asked if I would help with the setup. Of course, I’m always happy to help!
It was a photography workshop and I was curious to see what the teacher would have us do and excited to learn as much as I could. For regular readers of this blog, you know that I have been working hard on my photography, trying to improve it as much as I can. I am fortunate to have a history of film photography, but shooting digital was new to me and I had a steep learning curve when I started photographing for this site.
At this IACP session I met quite a few people and one of them was the woman responsible for documenting the session with her own photography. Heather Gill is an extremely talented photographer with a unique perspective. She covers many topics, but of course my favorites are her food photos. Check out how beautiful she makes ordinary vegetables look on her Etsy site! And to see even more of her work, follow her on Pinterest.
I got the inspiration for today’s recipe when I saw Heather’s beautiful Farmer’s Market Calendar cover. I incorporated some of the vegetables she features in the calendar and turned them into one of my favorite side dishes, roasted root vegetables. These are perfect with roasted or grilled meats or you can serve them as a vegetarian entrée. Rich and flavorful, roasting really brings out the subtle nuances in the vegetables and caramelizing the natural sugars.
Today I used cauliflower, carrots, onions, and beets, but you can use any combination of vegetables that you like. Anything you have in your refrigerator or pantry such as potatoes, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, broccoli, etc. will be even better when roasted together. And adding a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice right at the end makes the flavors pop. A touch of acidity really wakes up your taste buds!
One of the things I love the most about roasting is that most of the work is done in the oven leaving you plenty of time to prepare other dishes, take a seat, or sip on a glass of wine! You can roast your entire dinner and be plenty toasted by the time it is done, LOL.
I used Dukkah as the primary seasoning for my dish, but if you don’t have it in your pantry, you can make your own version. The primary seasonings in Dukkah are ground toasted nuts, sesame seeds, coriander and cumin. So you can just add some of each and get an approximate flavor combination. Plus there is a link for a “real” recipe if you prefer. You can also substitute lemon-pepper, chile powder, tandoori blend, or any other seasoning blend you and your family enjoy.
I love Heather’s photography so much that I wanted to share it with all of you. So today at The Heritage Cook we are giving away one of Heather’s beautiful 2014 calendars or an equivalent value of photographs from Heather’s collection. Just follow the directions for the giveaway below and I hope you win!
NOTE: The Giveaway has ended. Congratulations to the Winner, Robin!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When most people think of beets, they assume they are calling for the red ones. I like red beets, but prefer golden or Chiogga. I think they have a gentler flavor and are more suited to blending with other vegetables in dishes like this. Also, they do not “bleed” like the red ones do, so your other vegetables won’t be stained pink. Look for them or ask your grocer to stock them. Also, if you can, use baby beets. They are more tender and delicate – my favorites!
Vegetables are naturally gluten-free. Just be sure that any seasoning blends you use are safe. If there is any doubt, contact the manufacturer to verify the ingredients.
Farmer’s Market Roasted Vegetable Medley
© 2014 Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved.
Yield: about 8 side servings
Dry Seasoning Mix
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground chipotle powder, optional
2 to 3 tsp Dukkah seasoning, to taste *
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 small or medium onions, trimmed, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
6 medium beets, preferably golden and Chiogga
1 head of cauliflower
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp freshly chopped Italian parsley
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet (with sides) with aluminum foil. Place the sliced onions on the baking sheet.
Combine the Dry Seasoning Mix: In a small bowl, place the paprika, chipotle (if using), Dukkah, salt and pepper. Whisk together and set aside.
Prepare the Beets: Cut off tops and roots and scrub them well to remove any dirt and grit. Peel with a vegetable peeler and cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks. Place on the lined baking sheet with the onions.
If you are using red beets, because they bleed red juice that will stain the other vegetables, place them on one half of a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with a pinch or two of the dry seasoning mix. Fold the foil over and crimp the edges to make a sealed packet. The packet will help contain the juices. Place the packet on a separate baking sheet from the one used for the rest of the vegetables. Other varieties of beets can be roasted alongside the other vegetables.
Prepare the Cauliflower: Cut the greens and stem off the head of cauliflower. Cut head in half lengthwise and then into small pieces. The more flat surfaces the better to promote caramelization. Place on the foil-lined baking sheet with the onions and golden beets.
Season Vegetables: Drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle vegetables with the dry seasoning mix. Use your hands to toss until everything is evenly coated with the oil and seasonings.
Prepare the Carrots: Trim off the root ends and cut large carrots in half lengthwise. Cut into 2-inch pieces. Set aside. Because they take less time to cook than the cauliflower and beets, you will add them to the pan part way through roasting.
Roast the Vegetables: Place the baking sheet in the hot oven (plus the one with the beet packet if using red beets). Roast for 15 minutes; add the carrots to the mixed vegetables and stir everything together, coating the carrots with the seasoned oil. Turn the cooked vegetables so the browned edges are facing up. Return to the oven and continue roasting until all the vegetables are fork-tender and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes longer.
If you cooked red beets separately, open the foil packet, being careful not to burn yourself with the steam. Strain the beets to remove as much of the liquid as possible.
When done, remove the vegetable baking sheet from the oven. Add the red beets if using and toss together. Drizzle with the lemon juice and toss lightly. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, or more Dukkah if desired. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle the parsley over the top. Serve hot.
* NOTE: If you do not have Dukkah seasoning and don’t want to purchase it (but you should try it because it is fabulous!), you can make your own. Use this recipe from The Kitchn. The website has additional suggestions on possible additions to make it your own.
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