If you’ve never roasted your greens, you’re missing out. In a high heat oven for just a few minutes, vegetables transform from something you know you should eat, to something that must be dished out exactly evenly to avoid family squabbles over who got more brussels sprouts and broccoli. It’s true.
And it couldn’t be easier. I’ll explain how I made this dinner in less than 30 minutes to prove it.
I preheated the oven to 400 and pulled the brussels sprouts from the fridge. These guys came from the farm and had been in the fridge for longer than they should have. They needed to be very carefully cleaned and picked over to get rid of any yellowed leaves and a few of them had worms so I tossed those ones. The rest were trimmed with the outer leaves removed. Inside were perfect little sprouts.
This was more time consuming than it would have been had I gotten to them last week when I first brought them home from the farm. As I trimmed them, I tossed them on a roasting pan that was liberally coated with olive oil. Then I trimmed the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. I peeled a clove of garlic and tossed it in the olive oil too and made sure the veggies were all evenly coated with oil. When you’re cooking for kids, it’s important not to skimp on the fats – at least, that’s the excuse I use.
By the time the veggies were trimmed, the oven was hot. So I tossed them into the oven. I had 20 minutes until I needed dinner on the table.
I put a large pot of water on the stove to boil to make the orzo.
Next came the beans. I peeled another clove of garlic and put a pot on the stove over medium heat with some olive oil. I crushed the garlic into the oil and opened the cans of beans. Draining the beans and rinsing them first, I tossed them into the pot when the garlic was browned (but not burnt) and added about a quarter cup of broth. Let that simmer.
Time to add the orzo. It’s about 10 minutes until dinner time. Perfect. That’s how long the orzo needs to cook.
Stir the roasting vegetables so they’re evenly cooked. I grabbed some pine nuts from the freezer (they go rancid quickly so it’s best to keep them fresh in the freezer) and tossed a handful into the veggie mix when they had about a minute left of roasting to do.
The garlic clove was a big one so I didn’t think it would be done at the same time as the other vegetables. I poured about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a ramekin for the garlic to stick it back in the oven when I took the vegetables out. It was in there for an extra 5 minutes because it was a huge clove.
When the orzo was done, I drained it and added a bit of olive oil to keep it from clumping together. I dished it out into the bowls and topped them with the veggies and pine nuts, beans and a couple olives. Voila! Super easy and quick. I grabbed the straggling garlic clove from the oven and crushed it into the oil with a fork to add to the adults’ portions. Yum!
It had been a while since we’d had pine nuts so I didn’t know how they would go over with the kids – plus some of them were a little browner than others… my son gave them a thumbs up initially. But both kids tired of the taste of the pine nuts by the end of the meal. Crazy!
I would argue that roasting vegetables is easier than steaming or boiling them. It requires the same amount of chopping but the difference is that you toss them in oil and seasonings and go about your business without having to worry about them while you prepare the rest of the meal. Their sugars slowly caramelize and their flavours intensify while they cook. Anything that can be steamed or boiled is much better roasted, in my opinion.