In yesterday’s blog post, McKenzie mentioned that my birthday was last week. She kindly and discretely left out that it was my 40th birthday.
I have to admit, I was sort of dreading my birthday. For a woman, your 4th decade is filled with changes I wasn’t ready to face. But somehow I woke up last Saturday filled with gratitude and a sense of peace with growing older. I have so much to be thankful for.
I am extraordinarily lucky to have entered a second career that I love, one that fuels my interests and passions and feels important. I am blessed to have McKenzie as my partner in Nourish, and as my dear friend and sister. Kind to every inch of her being and genuinely caring about others, she is one of the people I admire most in this world. I have a loving family and a community of friends who inspire me. I am healthy. I love my home. And most importantly, I have the most amazing husband who inspires me every day to be the best version of me. He is the most joyful person I have ever known, and I am so grateful for his love in my life.
So, forty isn’t so bad.
One of the great benefits of growing older is being able to relax and let go of perfection. I think cooking is better that way, too. I like learning a method better than having a recipe. A method lets me bring in my own creativity, my own likes, and make a meal my own.
So that’s what this is: a method.
Learning how to make deliciously roasted vegetables is a cooking basic. For the Recipe Redux this month, we were challenged with the concept of cook once, eat twice. How can you take the ingredients from one meal and stretch them to another? If you have roasted vegetables in your refrigerator, you’re always just a few minutes away from a meal. The vegetables should be of your choosing: broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, asparagus, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash. Use your imagination. I love roasting citrus slices as well.
To make delicious roasted vegetables, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut all of the vegetables about the same size and place them in a bowl. Toss them with olive oil to coat them. Season them as you choose. I like sea salt, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Sometime oregano or smoked paprika. Sometimes za’atar or fresh thyme. Place the vegetables in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 – 25 minutes or until they are caramelized and golden. The biggest mistake people make when roasting vegetables is to remove them from the oven too soon. Let them get color, because color is flavor. Once they are done, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet.
Now, you have so many options.
As McKenzie said in her last post, I love pasta. For pasta with roasted vegetables, heat a little olive oil in a skillet and sauté a sliced shallot until golden and translucent. Toss in some red pepper flakes and maybe a few halved grape tomatoes. Add a splash of wine and simmer for a minute or two. Add your roasted vegetables and a big handful of fresh spinach. Then add hot cooked pasta (preferably whole wheat) and a ladle of the pasta water, about ½ cup. Toss in some grated parmesan cheese and some lemon zest and toss the pasta together.
I also love frittatas, and they are one of my go-to weeknight meals. Whisk together a few eggs (two per person) and add a pinch of salt and a big handful of roasted vegetables. Add herbs if you like, or maybe some fresh spinach or arugula. Place a small skillet over medium heat and add a little olive oil. Pour in the eggs and then place some cheese on top—maybe some goat cheese or feta, or some shredded sharp cheddar. Place the skillet in a 375 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it is puffed and golden and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and let the frittata cool slightly before slicing.
There are so many other things you can do with roasted vegetables: make a grain salad, eat as a snack, top with a drizzle of olive oil and a big dollop of yogurt for a beautiful side dish. You can eat them for breakfast, topped with an egg. Make a roasted vegetable pizza or an open-faced sandwich. The ideas are endless.
I hope you take this method and make it your own, relax in your own kitchen and embrace the things you are thankful for.