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Joni Woolf: A not-so-new way of preparing vegetables

Some of us still live by that old saying “Be not the first by which the new is tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside.”  I’m afraid I’m one of those. I do not immediately grasp the importance of trying something new. Several years ago, at dinner at a friend’s house, I was served roasted vegetables. She had just seen the recipe on the Internet and wanted to try it. The vegetables were delicious. They were also lovely to look at — they had that all important “eye appeal.” Yet, I never tried to duplicate the recipe. And it’s never been served to me again.

The image of all those lovely vegetables stayed in my mind, and I kept thinking that one day I would try it. The time has come. I searched the Internet for days, checking out dozens of sites. Unlike other recipes I have sought, these individual recipes did not vary much, one from the other. The vegetables that each site suggested might change a bit, but the method — from recipe to recipe — remained the same. It all sounded so easy. So I gathered courage and went grocery shopping. My grocery cart looked like an advertisement for healthy eating: there were rutabagas, carrots, sweet potatoes, purple onions, zucchinis, turnip roots, beets, red and green peppers, and new potatoes. It was a sight to behold. Now if I can just put all this together into one delicious dish, I will store the recipe away for future use.

As is my custom, I seldom follow a recipe exactly. So I have gathered data from a number of websites, and have come up with a method that I think will work for me, my pans and my oven. It follows fairly closely the websites Pioneer Woman and Allrecipes, two sites that are reasonably trustworthy. Here’s how I am preparing the dish:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean all vegetables and peel as necessary (rutabagas, beets and turnips need trimming). Leave the skins on the new potatoes. Cut into serving size pieces (about two inches square, or a bit less), and place in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the following:
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar)
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil (depending on volume of vegetables)
Salt and pepper to taste
Pour this mixture over the vegetables and toss thoroughly, making sure all vegetables are coated. If preparing a large amount of vegetables, use two baking sheets that have been lined with foil or parchment paper and have been sprayed with fat-free cooking spray (such as Pam). Place vegetables in pans, in single layer (not overlapping each other). Place one pan on bottom rack and one on top rack. Bake approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Half way through the baking time, switch pan on top to the bottom and pan on bottom to the top. Some web sites note that the vegetables may be cooked hours ahead of time and then warmed for 15 minutes in a hot oven prior to serving time. For those of us with only one oven, this sounds like an added attraction, since meats or breads may be using the oven close to dinner or supper time.

The vegetables are not only lovely to look at; they contain the vitamins that we need to have healthy bodies. So give this recipe a try, and we’ll compare notes. I am no longer putting it off. I have bought the vegetables. I am committed. I will let you know how it turns out!
(Note: for a complete dinner, I am serving this with baked turkey, marinated asparagus, and a wild rice dish. Sounds like food for a king!)

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net