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Roasted Vegetables: A Quick Meal That’s Fit for a Queen

I was alone, sitting near the wood stove, feeling like Cinderella, but rather than wishing for a prince with a glass slipper, I was wishing for dinner. I wanted comfort food that celebrated autumn, a dinner with complex flavors and one that was low in calories. Since the pumpkin carriage was out of service, dinner had to be created without a trip to the market. Wishing wasn’t working. I needed to think.

A baked potato dinner was a possibility. Preparation would be simple — washed and baked, the potato would be ready to top with yogurt. It was a low-calorie meal but not wonderful. I wanted a dinner that looked as if my fairy godmother had been hard at work.

I considered macaroni and cheese, but that required too much preparation, too many pots and I didn’t have a magic spell that would make it delicious and low in calories. Microwaved popcorn and a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich came to mind. But, even the mice in the kitchen expect more for dinner than that.

It was getting late and I was hungry. I looked for inspiration in the refrigerator and found carrots, turnips, a small butternut squash, half a cauliflower, a couple of parsnips and a handful of washed lettuce.

If a single pumpkin could be magically transformed into a carriage, surely this collection of vegetables could be transformed into dinner.

The clock chimed 7 and an idea occurred to me. I could roast the vegetables with potatoes, onions and garlic, season them with olive oil, butter, rosemary, salt and pepper and dine like a princess in less than an hour.

Here’s how I did it:

Vegetable Dinner

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

2 parsnips, peeled, woody core removed, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 -inch chunks

3 medium turnips, peeled and cut into quarters

3 medium potatoes, cut in quarters

2 medium onions, cut in quarters

1/2 cauliflower, cut in large florets

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in quarter- inch cubes

6 cloves garlic, unpeeled

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

I preheated the oven to 375, put all of the vegetables into a shallow ceramic baking dish, large enough to hold them in a single layer. For flavor, I stirred in the olive oil, butter, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper.

I put the vegetables into the oven and stirred them every 15 minutes so they would brown evenly. In 50 minutes, the vegetables were tender and golden. I put the roasted vegetables on a bed of lettuce dressed with simple vinaigrette and dined like a queen.

Except for leafy greens and artichokes, most vegetables are delicious when roasted. Asparagus or summer squash cook in half an hour so they should be added 20 minutes after the other vegetables have been put into the oven. The papery skin on the garlic cloves protects them from burning and becoming bitter.

The quantities and varieties of vegetables in this recipe can be adjusted to accommodate the contents of your fridge and pantry. The rosemary can be replaced with thyme or ground cumin.Vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage should be blanched and roasted for the last 15 minutes. Leafy greens like spinach, kale and chard are better blanched and then used as a base for the roasted vegetables. Raw lettuce, watercress or arugula can be shredded and used as a topper with or without a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

This recipe began as a modest meal for one, but I got carried away and ended up with enough vegetables to make sandwiches for lunch the next day. Here’s how I did it:

Vegetarian Sandwich

I diced the cold roasted vegetables, added minced fresh parsley, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and enough mayonnaise to hold it all together.

I put the vegetables and the remaining lettuce between slices of toasted sourdough bread.

Served with patty pan pickles, there was enough lunch for me and Prince Charming.

Carol Egbert lives in Quechee where she paints, writes and cooks. Her blog can be found at www.carolegbert.com.