What's been sitting in your vegetable bin for the past few weeks may provide a quick dinner tonight.

March 24, 2010

I was recently faced with a dinner dilemma. After spending a fun-filled girls’ weekend in D.C., I was trying to reestablish kitchen order in my postage stamp–size Brooklyn kitchen. I was tired. Willa, our 12-month old, still isn’t sleeping through the night, and I had gone out in Manhattan the previous night and had too many “artisanal” cocktails. My mind was foggy, but I was trying to hew to the New Year’s resolution I had made to cook more, buy less this year.

I dug through the fridge and rescued a Romanesco cauliflower (an amazingly sci-fi looking vegetable in both the broccoli and cauliflower families) that had been gorgeous when I bought it at the farmers' market two weeks ago.

Then I spied a butternut and a spaghetti squash that we’d done a very good job of ignoring for at least a month. I didn’t want to cook, but I figured I’d rescue these vegetables in the nick of time, and make some baby food while I was at it.

I preheated the oven to 375° and got to chopping. I baked the Romanesco cauliflower with some olive oil and sea salt (the pink Himalayan stuff is off-the-charts good) for 25 minutes. Then I cut a large turnip into batons and threw that together with the butternut squash wedges (vegetables that are the same texture and hardness can be paired up easily), olive oil, and salt and pepper, and baked it for about 40 minutes.

At the same time, I halved the very old spaghetti squash and threw it on an oiled baking sheet for the same amount of time. I ended up with absolutely nothing for dinner last night, but everything for dinner all week long.

Here are my favorite ways to use roasted veggies.

(Getty Images)

Pasta
Cook up some whole-wheat penne and toss with any roasted vegetable, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (no I won’t call it EVOO), salt, pepper, and some good grated Parmesan. Some chopped fresh herbs, like parsley or basil, are a bonus. Here's a great recipe for lasagna using leftover roasted veggies.

Soup
Since your vegetables are already cooked, putting a soup together becomes ridiculously easy. If you like it chunky, you can just simmer some low sodium chicken or vegetable broth, and add in diced roasted veggies. If you like a smooth soup, blend the roasted vegetables in a food processor with chicken broth and a bit of low-fat milk. Season to taste before serving. Try this Apple–Butternut Squash Soup.

Pizza
Get refrigerated dough from your local pizzeria or grocery store. Preheat your oven to 425°. Roll your dough out on a floured surface and fold over the edge to create a 1-inch border. Sauce it up with jarred sauce, sprinkle with shredded part skim mozzarella, and top with the roasted vegetables.

Salad
Serve your roasted veggies on their own, simply tossed with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice, or you can serve them over a bed of greens. I like arugula, and here's a good recipe for Roasted Squash Salad With Maple Vinaigrette.

Whatever you do with them, you’ll be happy you didn’t let those winter veggies languish one more day. After all, it is nearly time for spring cleaning.

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