Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Sweet Caramelized Mess

I'm not trying to add insult to injury. I know most of the U.S. is freezing their tail off when it's been sunny and in the 70s during the day here in Santa Barbara. But if it makes anyone feel better, we're supposed to be bracing for an El NiƱo (read: rainy) winter. Next week you'll probably be hearing me wail about the unrelenting rain. I know for a fact I could never live in Seattle. I need the sun. Most of the time Santa Barbara delivers. However it's also delivered to me a low threshold for cold temperatures. This results in me lighting a fire when the nighttime temps dip into the 50s and a craving for wintery comfort foods even though I ate fresh ceviche for lunch in my flip-flops and a t-shirt. 

And since this is the beginning of a New Year, when we're supposed to be turning over a new eating leaf after all the rich food indulgences of the holidays, I am pretending to, I mean trying to, eat more healthy winter veggies. Granted, in of themselves, they're not much to write home about, but drizzled with a bit of olive oil and roasted in the oven for an hour — with some diced pancetta because who can go cold turkey on the healthiness index?! — they are transformed into a sweet, caramelized mess of deliciousness. I'm sure the pancetta has a little to do with it, but honestly only a little. Did I mention there's also a scoch of maple syrup? I'm not sure if that's considered a natural sweetener but it's just a tad so you can practically ignore it. It's like eating french fries off someone else's plate: No calories.  

Whether you're looking for a dish to help you honor your intention to eat healthier or simply warm you up, try this one. It's mindless to prepare and makes you forget you're consuming brussels sprouts that are as good for you as they are tasty. 

Roasted Root Vegetables
More or less by Bon Appetit

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
4 beets, peeled, quartered
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
2 carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 2 -inch-long pieces
2 parsnips, peeled, cut diagonally into 2-inch-long pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, peeled, quartered through root end
1/2 lb brussels sprouts (approximately 12-15 sprouts)
1/3 cup diced pancetta
2 Tbsp butter, melted (optional)
1/3 cup chopped green onions (optional)

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Mix oil, syrup and garlic in small bowl. Place all cut vegetables and pancetta on a heavy large rimmed baking sheet. Pour oil mixture over; toss to coast. Spread vegetables in a single layer. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about an hour. Transfer roasted vegetables to a platter and drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with chopped green onions. Yields: 6 servings. [Note: The key here is to make sure all the vegetables are cut in similar sizes. That way they'll cook evenly. The bigger the size, the longer it will take to cook.]

1 comment:

  1. Maple syrup comes from a tree. Therefore it's a vegetable ;)