Saturday, January 05, 2008

Roasted in Honey


I think there was a point in my life when the only way I liked my carrots were honey-glazed. Now, I run in the opposite direction. Honey-glazed carrots, be it coins or the "baby" carrots in the bags, are just so sweet and mushy and not at all pleasant. At least not to me. I prefer my carrots raw, or, if they must be cooked, hidden in a stew, soup, or pureed.*

So I am a tad bit surprised that flipping through Cooking Light when I ducked into Borders one day last month that I was attracted to this recipe considering it had both honey and carrots, and the name of the recipe didn't even hide it. But the full page picture and the shallot, glistening and caramelized made me reconsider honey and vegetables together.

So when I was invited to a New Year's Eve potluck, I knew what I had to make. It kind of helped that the top of the page said "office potluck" because the article was a collection of recipes to fit different occasions in December. It didn't matter to me that New Year's Eve was chocolate souffles, and my goal when I bought the issue halfway through the month was to try those recipes if time allowed (and I really was going to make the panini, but it didn't use anything we already had in the house.) But I digress. I made the roasted vegetables for the party, and I was happy. I liked them better than the oatmeal cookies I made right after them. Not that those cookies weren't good.

I brought home the leftovers, and served them along with a mega-raspberry scone made by almost following Heidi's recipe and some eggs cooked over sauteed spinach. Even though they were the only thing not fresh that morning, my aunt and parents liked the reheated vegetables. Not even the freshly baked crumbly scone overshadowed the somewhat-mushy mess that they'd become.

I'd take that as a sign. So last night, with a different combination of vegetables (I had two rutabaga in the fridge I'd worried about putting in the first time I made them because they smelled so sweet) based on what looked good at the store, I made it again, spread it over a layer of whole-wheat shells, and topped it with some grated pecorino toscano cheese. It then waited in the warm oven an hour for my parents to get home while I listened to books on CD (that sounds so wrong to me). And either we were ravished, or it was tasty enough that we ate up every last bit of it. Well, at least the vegetables - there was some pasta left at the bottom of the dish when the table was cleared.

*That was one of the first recipes I made. I followed it the very first time, and improvised the latter times. I made it for a friend once who was so disturbed by the carrots being pureed,as amazed as I was by the immersion blender, that she barely touched her carrots. At least she liked the chicken, one of the first, and I think it might be the only, chicken recipe in my repertoire. I was just starting to enter the kitchen and move beyond tortellini in an aglio-olio made with burnt onions from my impatience at a time when chopping garlic was daunting and it came minced in a little green jar. It was a staple in our house on the nights mom cooked. Now we always have cloves of garlic. Mom wanted it for her birthday... I probably should have made it for her. But I think she liked the squid. I think I'd forgotten most of that. I kind of want to make those carrots again now.

Honey Roasted Root Vegetables
adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 8 as a side-dish

6-7 cups chopped assorted root vegetables (such as sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and rutabaga), about 4-5 lbs or 10 medium-sized vegetables
4 shallots, quartered (halved if small)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup light-colored honey (I've used orange and orange blossom, they suggest tupelo)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450F.

Combine and toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Divide among two rimmed baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray (though that doesn't seem to make a big difference-I left a dark one unsprayed and it was fine.)

Place baking sheets in oven. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring and switching position of sheets halfway through.

If making the recipe below, roast in a 475F oven and remove after about 20 to 25 minutes, once browned.

Honey-Roasted Vegetable Pasta
serves 4 as a main
I'm not sure this even counts a recipe... but anyways

Honey Roasted Vegetables (see recipe above)
1/2 lb whole-wheat pasta, such as shells or penne
1 cup (about 2 ounces) grated pungent cheese, such as Pecorino Toscano (the smell of which reminds my dad of garegorut, which is this black stuff that started off its life as milk)

Cook pasta according to package instructions until its soft, but still has some bite.

Arrange in the bottom of a deep 9x13 backing dish. Sprinkle with about 1/3 cup of cheese. Top with vegetables and sprinkle with remaining cheese. And serve.

Or, it seems like it keeps warm well, so it could also be a great potluck dish.

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