A lot of people enjoy greens lightly dressed, crisp as can be, with not much else on them. That’s great; good for you guys.
For others among us, joy is a bowl of roasted vegetables. It could be tomatoes slicked with olive oil, sparkling with fresh herbs. It could be squash, sliced thin and dressed with maple syrup. It could be a whole sweet potato, hasselback-style, dusted with Parm, and just for you. No one else.
That’s who we have in mind with these recipes. Some people won’t need or want starch alongside, but for those who do, the addition of a nice, Parmesan-infused creamy polenta, simple pasta, or steamed rice is just enough to make these easy veggie preparations into a meal. For those who want protein, there are all sorts of things you could do (think: leftovers), but for the rosy-hued dreamboat above, we couldn’t do better than a melting, room-temperature hunk of a triple-creme like Brillat Savarin and a nice crusty bread.
Here are a few roast veggie dishes for which we go wild.
Artichokes are great. Artichokes stuffed with bread crumbs, chiles and fresh mint are incredible. This is the sort of thing to break out when you’ve been stuck in a pasta-and-Parm rut or rice-and-beans rut for a week. Bust out the good white wine and have a glass. You’re worth it. Promise.
Big spuds fans have favorite parts of the ‘tater, but it’s tough to choose. (“Maybe I like the skin of a twice-baked best? No, it must be its creamy flesh. They’re best mashed. No; whipped. No…”) Sweet potato fans are like that, but next-level. This recipe gives you all the textures you could want in one dish thanks to the “hasselback” styling. There are crisp bits of flesh and soft ones, sweeter bites and saltier ones. Thyme, pecans and Parmesan are the ideal foils for the potato’s creamy texture.
Ratatouille: It’s equally good on top of a mountain, in Provence (where it hails from), or on your porch—so long as you have a hunk of goat cheese and a baguette. This gratin-styled ratatouille is a more elegant form of the classic. It’s got that bouquet of thyme you know and love, and the classic vegetables (tomato; eggplant; squash) tossed with caramelized onions and garlic. But it’s so pretty it lifts the spirit, too.
You know what’s as easy as rice to make, but often more satisfyingly toothsome? Barley. This tofu bowl studded with roasted beets and broccoli rabe is a dream. Tofu is lightly fried and shellacked with a delicious, smoky harissa paste. Make this after one too many pizza nights and feel much better.
There’s something so wonderfully sunny about polenta, and it goes so well with almost any roast veggie. This dish mingles it with fontina, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the produce abundant in the summer months. (In winter, consider it with Gorgonzola, butternut squash, and mushrooms instead!)
Root vegetables roasted with… curry powder? Stop and think about it: Of course it works. Turnips, parsnips, carrots, garlic and red onion mingle with toasty curry powder, then roast in a very hot oven until nearly caramelized. The result is something that you’ll want to eat hot off the pan with a fork, but it’s just as good with naan and a scoop of yogurt, sour cream or labneh.
Sure, cauliflower is the new kale, which is the new sundried tomato, which is the new… who can keep track these days? But what’s more interesting is cauliflower’s affinity for capers, anchovies and garlic. (Anchovies!) These are staples you likely have kicking around already, so put them to good use. Roast cauliflower requires a minimum of hands-on time and is so good.
Remember what we just said about whole-roasted cauliflower? Still applies. One of our favorite things about this veggie is you don’t need too much of your precious, pricey olive oil stash. Just a tablespoon or two can work magic at high heat. Penne mixed with the veg showcases just how creamy, crispy and unctuous it can become.
A moment for slow-roasted tomatoes. Ahhh. They’re a totally different animal from sundried tomatoes, which are the old raisins of the produce world. An oven set to low heat and 50 minutes of hands-off time take even tomatoes with the doldrums and put them in a wingback chair by the pool, with shades on. Do try to score some fresh oregano or fresh thyme; they can brighten the result. (But if you’ve got dried, go with dried; it still works!)