Caramelization is the magic that occurs when root vegetables are gently roasted. The browning and condensing of natural sugars as they cook create a deep buttery flavor, and a melt-in-your-mouth texture that elevate these lowly veggies to whole new status. Your kitchen is perfumed with an irresistibly seductive aroma.
Traditionally, roasted vegetables are served as a side dish either hot from the oven or at room temperature. Combined with a starch such as brown rice or kasha (buckwheat groats), they become the heart of a vegetarian main course; tossed with pasta or noodles, they become a jiffy sauce. Pureed or mashed and combined with stock, they become a hearty soup. Your compost will thank you for the scraps and peelings this recipe generates.
Roasted Root Vegetables
3 small turnips
1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui)
3–4 medium-size beets
2 yams or sweet potatoes
3–4 tablespoons olive oil
3–4 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
2–3 teaspoons coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 325ºF. Line two rimmed baking sheets or a large roasting pan with foil. The pans need to be big enough to cook the vegetables in one layer. Peel the turnips, carrots and parsnips and cut them into half-inch by three-inch strips. The more uniform their size, the more evenly they will cook. Peel the onion, cut it in half and then into half-inch slices. Trim the stem end of the beets and add them to a pot of rapidly boiling water. Cook them until they can be pierced with the tip of small sharp knife (about 10 minutes). They don’t to need to be soft. Drain them under cold water and slip off their skins. Cut the beets into half-inch-thick slices. Peel the yams, cut them in half lengthwise and then in half-inch-thick slices.
Spread about a tablespoon of olive oil on the bottom of the pan(s), to coat. Add the vegetables in one layer. Combine the remaining oils, vinegar and soy sauce and drizzle over the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sage.
Roast the vegetables until they are tender but not mushy, testing with a skewer or a fork (about an hour). Use a spatula to turn the vegetables once or twice during the cooking to ensure even browning. Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 6.