Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Simple satisfaction

There is certain beauty in perfectly sculptured cakes, in cotton candy and foods made to look like another. Stunning in a much grander way, I often think, is nature put on a plate, with all it's colors and textures. It makes my mouth water and my tummy growl... roasting veggies either in the oven, or if you are much smarter than I this time of year, on the barbecue. I love getting a veggie craving, as it is easily satisfied, not only to the palate, but also to the eye.

Allow me to bring my kids into this once again - subject: Brussel Sprouts.

In a somewhat odd way I enjoyed the comments they were giving me at the grocery store as I picked out a few handfuls of what should be cute to most girls, as Brussel Sprouts are mini cabbages, after all. "Noooo, mom, you can't buy those!" (They have figured out that whatever lands in the cart, will also be a must try on their plates.) "Gross! Yuck!" It's a mystery to me why most of us shudder at the thought of these cute little green guys. That's me included: in 10 years of marriage, I've only cooked them twice. Not very often for a dedicated veggie lover. It's the color that draws me in, as it brings balance to my other red, brown and purple veggies. Yes, I do pick my veg according to color. It's a thing of beauty, one we can all achieve even if we're not talented cake designers.

If you love your slow cooker, you're going to love this: Veggies and sausage roast at the same temperature, for the same amount of time. And dinner is ready in 30 minutes, not 4 - 8 hours.

Start with 5 - 7 different vegetables, including mini potatoes, chopping each individual kind into 20-minute-cook-sizes. That's 1.5 cm thickness for potatoes, quarters for mushrooms, and chunky slivers of red onion. You get the idea. Grab some trusty olive oil, drizzle to lightly coat. Kosher salt, fresh black pepper. You can't beat flavour like this. Spread in a glass baking dish, bake at 425 F for 20 - 25 minutes, along side a baking dish with sausage in single file (uncovered). After roasting, drizzle the medley with just a little more olive oil. Yup, that's right, it's amazing! I do love to add a little coarse salt here, too, as it brings out especially the potato just that little bit more.

Now before I get any of this in motion, I always run out to my herb garden, to do a little snipping and chopping. Parsley can be super underrated, but I love adding it right at the end of cooking, as parsley adds a layer freshness like none other. I also love my chives, as you know, onions are near and dear to my heart. I save some of these herbs to stir into the roasted vegetables, but most of them I use for this yummy accompaniment:

1/4 cup real mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp horseradish
salt & pepper
few tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs

There's just more love on the plate with a sauce like this.

PS: The children ate all of the Brussel Sprouts, um, may I add, with no complaints (ok, not until after much convincing the first bite). You just never know until you try. My biggest surprise, was, my enjoyment of them... as roasting them with other vegetables creates a rather lovely Sprout.

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