Seasonal Flavors: Comfort Vegetables


By Denise Zito

And now it is winter: full force, still dark and cold outside. Comfort foods are in order and this means the crock pot, the soup kettle and roasted root vegetables. We eat differently in January; there isn’t much left under the garden row covers, although despite all this sleet and cold weather, I still have plenty of lettuce, arugula and spinach in mine.

So we resort to opening the canned tomatoes and making some good soup or roasting some root vegetables. If you have an hour to prepare dinner, this is a wonderful option. It satisfies the vegetarians and works well with grilled meat of any description.

Nearly any vegetable can be roasted and the trick is not to overdo it. That stage just after perfectly roasted and just before charred is the key. Good oil (and not too much) produces the beautiful golden color and enhances the flavor. Most surprising ingredient: cherry tomatoes. They are not quite seasonal, but almost always available. They add beautiful color and a nice additional taste. Finally, a few choice herbs and an optional dressing poured on just before serving make for a satisfying dish.

As you ponder this recipe, remember that you can vary the proportions and delete the vegetables or flavors that your family may not enjoy or that you don’t have in the fridge.

Winter Roasted Vegetables (Serves 6)

  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled or not, cut into wedges
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut in diagonal slices, about half an inch thick
  • 1 sweet potato or winter squash, peeled, cut into half inch slices
  • 3 parsnips, peeled, cut into 2 inch x 1 inch chunks
  • 1 head of garlic, cut horizontally, use the two halves, try not to break it up
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • Optional sprigs of rosemary and thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 T olive oil 

Put the parsnips, carrots, onion and garlic in a bowl and pour on the oil. Stir to coat the vegetables. Sprinkle on some salt. Spoon everything into a roasting pan large enough to just cover the bottom with the vegetables. Add the herbs if you have them (you don’t really taste them but they make the house smell divine).

Place in 375 degree F oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove pan, add the potatoes, stir and return the pan to the oven. Roast for another 40 minutes until the potatoes are soft and golden. Then add the halved cherry tomatoes and roast for 10 more minutes.

Just before serving, whisk together the juice of a lemon, 2 tsp capers, 1 tsp maple syrup, ½ tsp Dijon mustard, 2 T olive oil. Pour over the vegetables before serving on a beautiful platter.