The temps have dipped dramatically and I am amazed anew by the degree to which the temperature and my desire to cook and bake are inversely proportional to one another. So we'll be well-fed as we freeze, if nothing else.
Hence this fantastic vegetarian feast of roasted veggies with decadent herby aioli. Not only does it fill your belly in a most delicious, vitamin-packed manner, it will also make your house slightly warmer while it roasts.
I used leeks, parsnips, a few of our home-grown sweet potatoes, some purple potatoes and broccoli from our CSA, and a beautiful, chartreuse-colored broccoflower that caught my eye at the store.
The combination is pretty darn incredible but you can really choose whatever veggies you like – carrots, fennel, and cauliflower would all be delicious, too.
My older son particularly loves roasted leeks and scarfs them down as fast as we can get them to his plate. Roasting turns them a beautiful amber color and makes them mellow, sweet and crispy so I can't say I blame him.
All the work in this meal lies in the prep – washing, peeling, and slicing or chopping the vegetables. But all told, it's a pretty simple meal to put together.
One tip is to make the aioli ahead of time – even the night before if you remember – as the flavor will get better and better with time. Although I used cilantro this time, I often use dill or basil if you have those handy. I do not usually go to the trouble of making the mayo from scratch (though here's how you do it if you want to – it is wonderful). I simply add a little bit of crushed garlic, some lemon juice, chopped herbs, and sea salt to store-bought mayo and mix. It's gooood.
Once everything is cut down to size, add several glugs of olive oil, sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and toss it all together to coat everything.
Then dump them out onto two heavy baking sheets and arrange them in a single layer so that everything is touching the pan, cover with foil and put in the oven. You'll need to take the foil off partway through the roasting and turn them once or twice to ensure that everything gets evenly browned.
Roasting does especially magical things to broccoli, broccoflower, and cauliflower, turning them sweet and nutty to the point of addictiveness. If you have not tried this yet, you will be delightfully surprised.
Roasted Vegetable Feast with Cilantro-Lemon Aioli
1 bunch of leeks, green parts removed and rinsed well to remove any dirt
2-3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and sliced length-wise
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced length-wise
3 parsnips, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 head of broccoli or cauliflower, washed, cut into florets and with stems peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (don't throw out the stems – they're really good – you just need to peel the tough skin off them)
1 cup of mayonnaise
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons fresh, chopped cilantro, basil or dill
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Make the aioli – mix the mayonnaise with the lemon juice, herbs and some salt and pepper and mix well. Put it in the fridge and let the flavors meld for up to a day or two although it will still be tasty if you make it right before the meal, too.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put all the cut up veggies in a large mixing bowl and toss with several glugs of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Make sure it's all well-coated and don't skimp on the oil.
3. Turn them out onto two heavy metal baking or cookie sheets and arrange them in a single layer so that everything has one side touching the metal. Cover each sheet with tinfoil and put them in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and roast for another 10 minutes. Turn the veggies with a spatula and roast for another 10-15 minutes until everything is crispy. If things need more time, turn them and put them back in for another 8-10 minutes. Serve warm with the aioli and let the pigging out begin!
Related post on The Garden of Eating: Salty, Sweet, Roasted Cabbage