I discovered a few years ago that one of the easiest and best ways to concentrate flavors in foods is to simply roast them in the oven with a little olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and then any other spices. This technique works for red meat, poultry, fish, and almost all veggies. The only thing that changes is the roasting time. Recipes that use this technique base will need at least one good quality very large roasting pan with a lift off grate. Sometimes that grate is needed, othertimes not. I am particularly enamored of this trick as it related to veggies. It turns rather mundane vegetables (think steamed green beans) into something spectacular that you’d want to serve a huge platter of at a dinner party. The best tool for just roasting the veggies is often a very large cookie sheet. The idea is that your pan has to be large enough to spread all your veggies out without lots of overlapping. Too much overlap gets more steaming than roasting and that will change the way the flavors concentrate.
To illustrate, here is one of my favorite recipes – it was adapted from a November 2009 Real Simple recipe.
Roasted Chicken with Mediterranean Vegetables
- 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (works with boneless-skinless, but loses much of the flavor and aroma)
- 1 bag baby carrots
- 4-6 small baby yukon gold potatoes – quartered
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 4-5 large garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
- 1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 lemons – zested and then cut into slices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon paprika
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss veggies and spices with olive oil to coat and spread evenly on the pan. Place chicken evenly on top of veggies. Season chicken with salt pepper and more paprika. Roast in the oven until chicken is cooked through (about 45 to 50 minutes). Try to toss the vegetables once or twice during the roasting. Serves 4 – each serving of approximately 1 breast (no skin, no bones), approximately 2 cups vegetables – 7 pts The flavor this recipe gets out of the olives and carrots is unbelievable. My family will be fighting over them by the end of the meal. Really? Loud words over a carrot? Think about it….they must be just that good.
This is definately a case where I use this recipe as a guide…what other veggies (or combinations of veggies) could you do this way (what about greenbeans, asparagus, fava beans, broccoli, or cauliflower)…or other proteins (like turkey sausage roasted over brussell sprouts and potatoes)??? Couldn’t you also add some wine/beer/vinegar along with the oil when coating the veggies before roasting? Or maybe better, splash the freshly roasted veggies with the wine/vinegar/beer just before serving. The options are endless!!! (: I’d love to hear what you come up with! I already shared with you one of my go-to versions of this ingeniously called Roasted Asparagus about 3/4 of the way down the post about Veggies Taking Over the Internets. So, how much easier can a summer meal get if you have all the veggies on a pan in the oven, including your corn cobs or potatos and then your protein is on the grill? And they both take about 20 mintues to be done. That is some crackerjack timing right there! MMMMMMmm….something smells good!!!