How To Roast Any Vegetable

I love Brussels sprouts.  I make them frequently for a side with my work lunch. I also frequently get  really disgusted looks when I am eating them in the break room.   I get it.  Most people have only had overcooked, mushy,  farty smelling, boiled to death Brussels sprouts.  But there is a way to cook Brussels sprouts, and most other vegetables, that avoids all downfalls of boiled vegetables.  The method is called roasting.

Like most cooking techniques, roasting isn’t hard but there are somethings you need to know to help you be a master roaster.

  1.  Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  You want to have your oven as hot as possible so turn it on, set it at 425 degrees and let go for at least 15 minutes before adding your vegetables.
  2. Don’t skimp on the oil.  Start drizzling about 1 tablespoon of oil over the vegetables and use your hands to toss the vegetables.  Each individual piece of  vegetable should be slick and glossy with oil.  If you need to add another teaspoon or two of oil.  Avoid having puddles of oil on the bottom of the sheet pan.
  3. Don’t crowd the pan.  Leave some space between the vegetables.  If you crowd the pan, the vegetables will steam rather than roast.  Steaming is a viable cooking method but not what we are going for here.  If you have a lot of vegetables it is better to use two or more pans.
  4. When is it done?  The technical answer is the vegetables are done roasting when they are tender with a bit of char on them.  Char being  the brown, crispy bits that are full of flavor on the vegetables.  The non technical answer is the vegetables are done whenever they are tender enough and charred enough for you.  I find this means different things for different vegetables.  Don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what this means for you.

How To Roast Any Vegetable

1 lb vegetable

1 – 2 olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Clean and trim yourvegetables.  Put the vegetables on a rimmed sheet pan and toss until each vegetable is slick and glossy with oil.  Roast until the vegetables are tender and charred.

Asparagus             10 – 20 minutes

Cabbage                 10 – 20 minutes

Carrots                   30 – 45 minutes

Potatoes                 30 – 45 minutes

Broccoli                  15 – 20 minutes

Cauliflower            15 – 25 minutes

Brussels Sprouts    15 – 25 minutes

Green Beans            10 – 20  minutes

Zucchini                   10 – 20 minutes

Sumer Squash         10 – 20 minutes

Onions                       30 – 45 minutes

Tomatoes                  15 – 20 minutes

 

 

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Whole30 Day 3 — Weight Watcher ‘s Vegetable Soup

When I decided to do the Whole30, I spent a lot of time thinking what times I might be vulnerable to making bad food choices.  The biggest danger zone I could think of for me is when I get off of work.  I get home from work anywhere from 7 to 9 pm.  Depending on how I slept the night before and how stressful my day was there are a lot of times I stop by the deli on my way home or toss a bowl of oatmeal or some other grain into the pressure cooker for dinner becauseI just don’t want to cook.  I can’t do that on while I am doing a Whole30 so I need another plan.  I decided to make a pot of soup on my prep day and eat it as needed throughout the week.  The first soup I made was Weight Watcher’s Zero Point Vegetable Soup.

Back when I was a Weight Watcher, I wasn’t much of a cook.  I lived on Smart Ones tv dinners, Boca Burgers and Weight Watcher’s zero point vegetable soup.  I ate gallons of the stuff.  The soup got me through a lot of times when I had no points left for the day and I  was starving. I think it is going to do the same for my Whole30.

A lot of my friends are asking how I am feeling since I started my Whole30, so I thought I would post my response here.  Day two and three, I woke up feeling like I was coming down with something.  I had a vague headache and felt kind of achy.  The literature said that is normal and should go away soon.  I also started having very vivid nightmares and dreams.  I wake up in a terrified and in a sweat or crying or ecstatically happy and I don’t know why.  I don’t know if these dreams are connected to the Whole30 or not, but they started the same time as I started my Whole30.  The literature says that vivid dreams about eating noncompliant foods and ruining your Whole30 are common.  That is not what these dreams are.  I usually don’t remember what I have dreamed so this is just weird.  I don’t mind the crying or being ecstatically happy but I can totally do without the flop sweats and my heart beating so hard it feels like it is coming out of my chest.  The only other physical symptom I have is I fart alot.  This isn’t suprising since I have eaten more vegetables in the last three days than I have in the last three months.  I am sure this  will pass as my body gets used to eating more good stuff.

Weight Watcher's Zero Point Vegetable Soup

2/3 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup diced onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat-free broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
1 1/2 cups diced green cabbage
1/2 cup green beans
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup diced zucchini
In a large saucepan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, sauté carrots, onions and garlic over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add broth, cabbage, green beans, tomato paste, basil, oregano and salt, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for around 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Lastly, stir in the zucchini and continue to heat soup for 3-4 minutes.

 

Spiced Mashed Eggplant

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Why, oh why, is there never an eggplant around when I need it?  Seriously, every eggplant in Fargo, North Dakota has up and disappeared simply because I want to make spiced mashed eggplant for dinner tonight.

When I was on vacation I picked up a new Indian cookbook, called Recipes From An Indian Kitchen.  The recipes used spices I already had on hand and the ingredients easily found in local grocery store, except, apparently, that eggplant.  If finding an eggplant is an issue for you, just do what I did and substitute 1 pound of white mushrooms for it.  This recipe  would also be a great place to use the Coriander Scented Untoasted Spice Blend or The English Style Madras Curry Powder I posted last week.

Spiced Mashed Eggplant

Ingredients

2 large eggplants or 1 pound of mushrooms

2 TBS butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 fresh green chili, finely sliced

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground tumeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

2 1/2 TBS finely chopped fresh cilantro

Prick the eggplant all over with a fork and roast them under a medium – hot broiler, turning occasionally, for 20 – 25 minutes, until the skin blackens and chars.  The eggplants are cooked when a knife is easily pushed into the center like it is going through soft butter.  Let cool until cool enough to handle.  Remove the skins and coarsely mash the pulp.  Set aside.  Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet.  Add the onions and saute 5 -6 minutes, until softened.  Add the ginger, garlic and chilies.  Saute for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and salt.  Cook for 12 – 15 minutes.  Add the chili powder, paprika, coriander, cumin and tumeric.  Stir in the reserved eggplant flesh and cook 3 – 4 minutes.  Stir in the garam masala and chopped cilantro. 

 

 

 

Red Curry Chicken and Vegetables

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One of the best things about being a blogger is all the awesome people you met through the comments section of your blog and other people’s blogs. I have met so many kind, supportive people who really have an appreciation of what I am trying to do here. My followers and all the people who have commented on A Solitary Feast have given me confidence to keep doing what I am doing and built me up in my non blogging life too.

One of the not best things about blogging, is the occasional person who feels they have to tear you down for whatever reason. I don’t get these kind of comments very often and long ago decided not to feed the bullshit by approving the nasty comments. However, I feel the need to address one persistent troll who calls my food redneck  and swill among other nasty things.

Dear nasty person,

I am sorry you don’t like the recipes I post on my blog. However, I don’t post my recipes for you. I post them for me. The recipes aren’t a reflection of what you like to eat they are a reflection of what I like to eat. They are a reflection of the foods I grew up eating and some of the food traditions of the region I grew up in and still live in. If you don’t like the recipes I post you are more than welcome to stop visiting me and go visit any of the billion and one other food/recipe blogs on the internet.

You say I don’t post your nasty, petty little comments because I can’t take criticism. I take constructive criticism just fine.  I have made many adjustments to my recipes based on what people I trust have said about them.  My blog is happy, positive place. I don’t post your comments because they are cruel and mean spirited to me and the people who follow and read my blog. You have been reported to the Word Press authorities.  Sincerely,  Me.

Now with that bit of stuff over and done with those of you who actually come to A Solitary Feast because you actually like the recipes I post here can move on to the recipe for today.   One of the hardest things to do when adapting recipes for one or two is finding ingredients in sizes that don’t leave a lot of leftovers.  You can skirt the issue by making a lot of ingredients, like spice blends, sauces and things like taco seasoning yourself, in small amounts. However, some things just aren’t the same when you make them yourself so I am always on the lookout for small size ingredients.

On one of my many visits to Natural Grocers during my vacation, I found small (5.46 ounce, about 2/3 cup) cans of coconut milk.  I was so excited!!!  I have several recipes in my to try file that take coconut milk but I have never tried them.  Once I reduced the recipe, it used so little coconut milk I would end up wasting almost a whole can of coconut milk.

The first recipe I decided to try was from the back of the can of coconut milk.  It was a recipe for Red Curry Chicken and Vegetables. I have never tried making any kind of Indian food before because I can’t handle a lot of  spicy hot in my food.   I thought, wrongly, that all Indian food would be too hot for me.  I didn’t stray to far from the recipe for this one.  I looked up what vegetables would traditionally be used in a curry and used carrots and onions because that was what I had on hand .  Although I liked the recipe as it was written, the next time I make it I will play around with different  spices and vegetables.

Red Curry Chicken and Vegetables

Ingredients

2/3 cup coconut milk

1 TBS Red Curry paste

1 1/2 tsp brown sugar

8 oz cooked chicken

1/2 cup assorted cut up vegetables

1 TBS fish sauce

2 TBS fresh Thai basil, optional

Bring the coconut milk to a simmer in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the curry paste and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and vegetables.  Cook 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are crisp tender.  Stir in the fish sauce and basil, if using.

 

 

 

Savory Bread Pudding

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I am not very good at using all of an ingredient. I use what I need for the recipe then the rest goes bad before I can use it in another recipe. It is a horrible waste, not only of the ingredient, but of the money used to buy the ingredient. So I am always on the look out for recipes that are flexible enough to allow me to use up any left over ingredients I have in the fridge.

This savory bread pudding is extremely flexible as you can use any bread, fresh or stale, cheese or vegetable you have on hand.

Savory Bread Pudding


Ingredients
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Dried or fresh herbs, to taste
1 1/2 cups bread cubes
1 1/2 cups diced cooked vegetables
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1 quart baking dish with non stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk and herbs, until well blended. Fold inn cubed bread, vegetables and 3/4 cup cheese. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until set.

Adapted from the Cabot Creamery COOP