Sprucing up the vegetables

  • Article by: MEREDITH DEEDS , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 16, 2014 - 3:06 PM

For an easy meal in the oven, try roasting it all on a sheet pan.

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Salmon with roasted potatoes and asparagus

Photo: Meredith Deeds • Special to the Star Tribune,

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You have to appreciate any culinary technique that can make your children change their minds about an entire food group. That’s what roasting did for my kids’ perceptions about vegetables. For years, I steamed the broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. I boiled the asparagus and green beans. I essentially turned them into milder, softer versions of their more flavorful selves because I thought my kids would like that better. I was wrong.

Roasting meats and veggies in a searing hot oven caramelizes the natural sugars and intensifies the flavors. While that’s usually good news to adults, it’s often what makes them attractive to kids, too. For years, I thought my boys just didn’t care for broccoli, carrots and a ton of other vegetables that I cooked on the stove. Once I moved them to the oven, the kids gave them another chance. Now I can’t take a pan of Brussels sprouts out of the oven without having to guard over them until I can get them on dinner plates.

Another important plus in terms of roasting is that I can make an entire meal on just one sheet pan, which means whoever is doing the dishes is going to be a happy camper. Well, a happier camper.

Using just one sheet pan is an easy and effective method of getting dinner on the table in short order. Not only does it make food taste delectable and streamlines the dishwashing process, but it’s healthful, too. You don’t have to use excessive amounts of fat to add more flavor.

While I use this technique year-round with a variety of ingredients, one of my favorite combos this time of year, when spring is in the air, is salmon with new or fingerling potatoes and a seasonal vegetable. Asparagus is an obvious choice, but leeks, baby carrots and spring onions are all good options.

As different ingredients cook at different rates, I make sure to start the longer cooking ones, such as potatoes and leeks, first and give them a head start on the more delicate ingredients, in this case salmon and asparagus. Then I can pull it all out of the oven at the same time and ring the dinner bell.

 

Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of “Everyday to Entertaining.” Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.

 

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