Roasted Vegetables

Parsnips have become a great discovery and addition to my rotating melange of roasted veggies.  Once the leaves begin to turn and the light gets an orange tint in the evenings, all I want is roasted vegetables and a cozy sweater.  It just feels right.  This brings me back to parsnips.  If you’re not familiar, they look like an albino carrot.  Every Christmas I make the roasted vegetables, a menu that is planned months in advance, which is a bit ridiculous considering I’m an only child and there are three of us for dinner usually.  The conversation goes like this:

My mother: What are we thinking for Christmas?
Me: I’m doing the vegetables
My mother, as she writes our menu on a napkin: Ok, what does that look like?
Me: Yams, peppers, onions, carrots and parsnips.
My mother: Are parsnips the ones I like?  Or is that rutabagas?  Uh, not rutabagas, remember that casserole?!  Never again!

We literally have this conversation every year.  Along with the recap of what my middle name is and the date of my birthday – but I digress…

Make this recipe often and in bulk.  Use the roasted vegetables in salads, as left-overs and pureed in soup.  You really can’t go wrong.

Side dish for 3-4 (or dinner for two, depends who’s sitting at your table)

1 red bell pepper
1 sweet onion (preferably Walla Walla)
1 medium sized yam, peeled
1 LB carrots, peeled (preferably organic)
1 LB parsnips, peeled (preferably organic)
2 tblspoons olive oil
2 tspoons maple syrup
1 tspoon salt
freshly cracked pepper
balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400*F.  Coat a large roasting pan with non-stick spray.
Cut vegetables in 1×1 inch bite sized pieces.  You’ll want them to be relatively the same size so that they cook evenly.  Put all the vegetables in the roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, maple syrup, then season with salt and pepper.  Using your hands, toss the vegetables in the olive oil mixture, then spread out in roasting pan.  The more space the veggies have in the pan the better, the cut pieces will caramelize and roast instead of steam.  Cook for 40-50 minutes, uncovered, or until the yams are easily pierced with a fork, but not total mush.  Half way through the cooking process, open the oven and give the pan a few shakes to toss the vegetables.  After they’ve cooked, transfer to a serving dish and let sit for a few minutes to cool and intensify the flavors.  Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over the top if you’re in the mood.

Oh, don’t forget your cozy sweater…