Our summer was wonderful, and what I will miss most is the long expanse of time without sniffles, coughs, and fevers. That period of cold-free bliss ended for Mikey on Saturday. I was sad to see him sick, of course, but also happy because he asked for a specific dinner to make him feel better, a dinner I make from scratch. I put a lot of effort into what I feed the boys and there are many nights where all they do is pick at their plates. I get frustrated and discouraged enough to wonder why I don’t toss a couple of Hot Pockets down their throats and call it good.
He’s too young to realize it, but he equated comfort with something that comes from my hands. If Mikey knew how happy he made me, he’d say the same thing every night of the week and follow it up with a request for Star Wars Legos. I would buy them.
I rarely post recipes (my reasoning is here), but the freshly washed peppers and tomatoes looked so pretty I took a picture (to make it last longer!). One picture lead to another, so I decided to write about what you may already know: how to roast vegetables.
Roasting vegetables is an easy way to precook a large amount of vegetables you can then use throughout the week in dozens of ways. Root vegetables are easier to roast than vegetables like peppers and onions. We ate roasted carrot fries with dill all summer long. The high sugar and water content in peppers, onions, and tomatoes, on the other hand, means you are a distracted moment away from charred dinner, so not everyone likes to cook them this way. Hopefully this recipe, if you can call it that, will give you the confidence to give it a shot.
The vegetables will cook down, so double your quantity if you want leftovers. Don’t be afraid of a full roasting sheet.
Roasted Peppers, Onions, and Tomatoes
12 Roma tomatoes
2 Onions (I used sweet onions)
3 Bell peppers
herbs and seasoning to taste (I like oregano, about 2 tablespoons)
Preheat oven to 400°
Slice Roma tomatoes in half.
Slice ends off onions. Remove papery skin. Cut onions in half, and then in half again. If your onions are large, cut again. It’s important your vegetables are all roughly the same size to ensure similar cooking times.
Slice your peppers into quarters. I like to slice around the pepper in four large strips, then slice those in half, vertically.
Add everything to your roasting pan. Drizzle with oil (olive or coconut) and toss to coat. You can also drizzle lightly for flavor and mist with cooking spray if you want to reduce your added fats. What’s important is that your vegetables are coated with something and not left to dry roast in the oven. A vinaigrette would work just as well, for example. Just use one you really like, as the flavors will concentrate.
Add salt and pepper (aggressively) to taste. Add the herbs, making sure they are coated and well blended with the vegetables.
Place pan in oven and roast for 20-30 minutes. Start checking your vegetables at 20 minutes. You can stir the vegetables if they are not browning evenly. When the onions, peppers, and tomatoes are golden brown with dark edges, they are done.
Tip #1: The timing depends on how fast and hot your oven roasts. I have a convection oven, so things move a little faster for me. If the vegetables are just about done but the rest of your dinner isn’t, it’s okay to turn off your oven and allow residual heat to finish the job.
Tip #2: Do not stir the vegetables until they are at least golden brown (see picture). Barely cooked vegetables will still stick to the pan; it’s their crispy (root vegetables) or browned (peppers, onions) skin that allows you toss them about. Try to move them before they’re ready, and you’ll have a mess on your hands.
Tip #3: Learn to cook by smell. As a general rule, only nearly cooked/cooked food gives off an aroma. Take these vegetables, for example. If you are in the kitchen and you suddenly smell them roasting, they are close to done–maybe 7-10 minutes left in the cooking process. Start checking. If you can clearly smell the vegetables and you are in another room, high tail it to the kitchen before something burns. You can use this same technique for everything from toast to chicken.
You can serve roasted vegetables as a side dish or use them in salads, rice bowls, burritos, sandwiches, omelets, and a host of other quick meals. In case you are wondering, Mikey wanted them over soft polenta. It’s winter comfort food, so I’ll share the recipe when the temperature isn’t hovering close to triple digits. I banked at least 200 Mom Points by making soft polenta in the middle of a heat wave.