Whether you slow cook them yourself, or, like I often do, buy them ready made from your supermarket's deli counter, roasted root vegetables are a hallmark of the season. This hearty, hot dish is, as far as vegetables go, a rich treat.
If you think of members of the root crowd as dingy because they grow underground, reconsider since they come in lots of deep shades of the rainbow, such as just the one root vegetable of carrots, which appears from white, to yellow, to orange, to red, to purple. Other colorful choices include beets, yams, radishes, turmeric and ginger. Some of the less colorful, but no less wise choices, are garlic, jicama, onions and celery root.
Yet, the underground connection is a powerful one. While growing there, the vegetables absorb a lot of nutrients from the soil. Roasting enhances their flavor more, sometimes even giving somewhat of a sweet, gooey, caramelized touch.
Try the following examples with cooled, cooked roasted vegetables. Gently mix and reheat in the microwave, the oven or on stove top until warm.
—Extra-virgin olive oil, brown sugar and ground cinnamon.
—White grape juice, golden raisins, minced prunes and curry powder.
—Applesauce, diced apples, pumpkin pie spice and quartered dried apricots.
—Red wine vinegar, freshly ground black pepper and dried cherries.
—Orange marmalade, allspice and minced fresh basil.
The above are excellent, as is, as side dishes or healthful snacks, or consider some of the following uses:
—Topping for oatmeal.
—Topping for French toast, pancakes or waffles.
—Stuffed in roast chicken, possibly along with wild rice.
—In a warm salad with a base of wilted fresh spinach, drizzled with slightly warmed balsamic vinaigrette.
AFTER-WORK GOURMET COOKBOOK SHELF
This time of year almost screams for Adrianna Adarme's "The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures." Adarme is the author of the popular blog "The Cozy Kitchen," and this tome proves why books are still a good idea. Right at your fingertips in one spot are almost endless ideas for gifts for yourself and others along with lovely photographs of the wares. The book itself is a nice holiday or hostess gift, but it's even more fun to show off what you've learned, such as homemade goat cheese, chewy chai snickerdoodles, holiday wreaths, etched cocktail glasses, tie-dyed table runners or rose petal lip balm. Best of all, the fun can last year round, with chapters organized by season.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." She also writes the Creators News Service "Cooks' Books" column. To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.