Ina Garten is my favorite high profile cook. I trust her. She is real, down to earth, uses great ingredients (some that are far beyond my scope or wallet, but most not) and simple techniques. One of the best things I have learned from her, through the several Barefoot Contessa cookbooks I own, is roasting. She has taught me to roast chicken, asparagus, peppers, new potatoes and carrots. It is remarkable that the simple components of a hot oven, olive oil, Kosher salt and ground pepper could create such beautiful, savory, healthy, tasty dishes. I stand in awe.
So we roast quite a bit in our house and we use a good amount of kosher salt, ground pepper and olive oil. They are 3 of my dearest friends in the kitchen.
Do you use kosher salt? I think it was Martha Stewart who first introduced me to it many years ago. Thanks Martha! There is something valuable about the size and coarseness of Kosher salt for seasoning. Because Kosher salt doesn’t shake out of a salt shaker very well, I began using a small bowl of it in my kitchen. Then you're able to pinch or measure out what you want, rather than pouring it from the awkward box. And it is remarkable how ground pepper from the mill brings so much more zip to a dish (though Dave sometimes accuses me of being pepper happy).
This season I have been making varieties of Roasted Winter Vegetables. In Ina's original recipe she uses butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and white potatoes. It is beautiful and lovely. I realized, however, that in this mix the squash is my family’s least favorite. It is also the most labor intensive to prep and most expensive to purchase. I began to omit it. Sometimes we just roast carrots, sometimes just new potatoes, at times only sweet potatoes. This past week I roasted white and purple potatoes and sweet potatoes, and they were gobbled up by all…even my persnickety eaters. I usually serve them with a dollop of sour cream, though my kids sometimes prefer a little ketchup or even some brown sugar with those sweet potatoes.
They couldn’t be easier or yummier. In fact, they sometimes upstage the main dish on my dinner plate!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice potatoes, (peel and slice sweet potatoes, carrots and butternut squash).
Toss in enough olive oil to coat but not drench the vegetables.
Sprinkle with Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper (to taste).
Dump onto cookie sheet.
Bake until tender inside with some crispy outsides (30-45 minutes). Using a spatula, toss and turn at least once during the cook time.
Once you start roasting, you might start thinking about other things in your fridge that you want to add to the mix. Mmm, winter comfort...and healthy!