Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer's Roasted Vegetables

Someday, when I have my own garden, I want to carry heavy laden baskets full of fresh vegetables into my kitchen, to be prepared that night and gobbled up by eager mouths.  Someday, I want to know which foods go best for what season, which foods are most practical, so that I can eat in line with what the earth can give me.

We will have fresh fruit and ripe squash all summer and into the fall, and we will have hearty root soups and whole grain breads in the winter.  In the spring, we will enjoy the precious tidbits of little delicacies that only Spring in her perfect weather can provide.  Each season will have its own favorite dishes and menus, and each dish will conjure up memories of the seasons.  Hand in hand. They go together like sisters.

or cousins :) 

My sister Summer was named after my Daddy's first crush, Princess Summerfall Winterspring from the Howdy Doody show.  These weren't my sister's vegetables.  And it's not her recipe, either.  But all these veggies tend to make their appearance in my kitchen around summertime, especially the garlic scapes and zucchini, and it feels distinctly summer-ish to me. So, it seems fitting that the recipe belongs at least to the season, if not to my sister, and the Princess :)

In any case, it's also quite variable, and very simple.  I've written out what I used below, but you can substitute any of your own favorite vegetables and seasonings.

Serves 4

olive oil
1 medium onion
1/4 small red cabbage
about 8 whole basil leaves
4 medium to large whole beets
1 large zucchini
about 1 c garlic scape pesto
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium dutch oven (mine's 6 quarts and I had plenty of extra room), layer vegetables as follows:

sliced onions
cabbage, thinly sliced
basil leaves (laid evenly over the cabbage)
drizzle of olive oil
chopped beets (mine were big chunks--they don't have to be bite-sized--and I didn't even peel them)
pesto (spread as evenly as possible over the beets)
zucchini (halved and sliced)
another drizzle olive oil
sprinkle of thyme leaves
salt and pepper

Cover the vegetables and bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until the beets are tender. Serve it up as a side dish if you like, but we served it as an entree, with quinoa and a honey-dressed salad to go with it.


Substitution Ideas

Instead of red cabbage, basil, beets, and zucchini: green cabbage, potatoes, and/or turnipsmustard sauce, and carrots/parsnips on top (St. Patty's day in a pot!)

Instead of onions, substitute leeks, sliced in dollars, layered thickly on the bottom.

Rather than zucchini, use eggplant, sliced in rounds or chunked.

Instead of garlic scape pesto, use basil pesto. But make sure it's nice and garlicky! The acidic garlic is a nice complement to the beets and cabbage.

Use butter instead of olive oil.

Add Herbes de Provence instead of thyme and/or basil.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless :) Enjoy!

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