Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Now and Later Recipes: Roasted Vegetables Become Pasta Primavera

Can't get the kids to eat their veggies? Caramelizing vegetables turns ho-hum into yum-yum and all it takes is a roasting pan and a little olive oil.

Roasted vegetables make an excellent side dish that works well with fish, chicken, or meat. Healthy and inexpensive, they add levels of flavor to grilled chicken breast, hamburger patties, or sauteed fish.

Vegetables take very little time to prepare. They'll keep in the refrigerator for several days so you can make them ahead and use them when it suits you.

If truth be told, they can even be frozen. When reheated, no one will be the wiser.

Now: Roasted Vegetables
Later: Pasta Primavera West Coast Style

Now: Roasted Vegetables

What you roast is up to you. Tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, corn on the cob in the summer, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, onions, garlic cloves, squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, fennel, leeks....

Choose your vegetables for taste and appearance. The Italians certainly got it right when they perfected this technique. A plate of roasted vegetables is as beautiful as a flower arrangement.

Both our boys were early eaters of vegetables because we roasted or, in the summer, grilled them. The technique is the same for either; toss the vegetables in olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper, and cook until soft but with some crunch and lightly browned.

If you live in an area with farmers' markets, take advantage of them. Walking past the farmers' tables will give you ideas. When the cherry tomatoes are in season, red and orange baskets are everywhere. Buy a couple and use one basket in salads and the other for roasting, to serve as a side dish or added to pastas and soups.

Yield 4 servings with left-overs (which you'll need for the Later recipe)

Time 45 minutes


4 large carrots, washed, peeled, cut into 1/4" thick rounds or 1/4" thick slabs 1 1/2" long
2 medium sized yellow onions, washed, peeled and cored, cut into quarters
4 ears of corn, husks and silks removed, washed, cut into 2" long sections
2 bunches asparagus, washed, white ends trimmed off
2 large broccoli head, washed, the end trimmed, sliced into pieces 1" wide
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl drizzle olive oil over the vegetables, season with sea salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Put the vegetables into the roasting pan and put in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes for even cooking.

Each vegetable takes a different amount of time to cook, so check each one for doneness before you remove them from the oven.

Serve hot from the oven.

Later: Pasta Primavera West Coast Style

Because the vegetables can be kept refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen for several weeks, this is a great last-minute meal when you're feeling rushed.

On the West Coast we love vegetables, so anything goes, as I said above. Roast or grill whatever you like.

Yield 4 servings

Time 30 minutes


4 cups roasted vegetables, roughly chopped
1 pound pasta, spaghetti, fussili, ziti, or penne
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1 1/2 cups pasta water from making the pasta
Sea salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt


Boil a large pot of water. Add the Kosher salt. Add the pasta. To prevent sticking, stir well throughout the cooking, about 10 minutes. Put a heat-proof cup or a Pyrex measuring cup that can hold 1 1/2 cups into the sink next to the strainer. When you drain the pasta, capture 1 1/2 cups of pasta water. Set aside.

Put the pasta back into the pot. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the pasta. Toss well. Season with sea salt and pepper. Toss. To keep the pasta warm, lay a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pot but do not seal. Set aside.

Put the roasted vegetables in a large frying pan, on a medium flame. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and the sweet butter and reduce over a medium flame for 5 minutes. Toss the vegetables to coat.

Add the pasta and another 1/2 cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta and vegetables to mix well. If you need more liquid, add more of the pasta water.

Just before serving, pour the pasta, broth and vegetables into a large bowl. Serve with the grated cheese alongside.


To add heat, put 1/4 teaspoon of tabasco or a pinch of cayenne when you're heating the vegetables.

Add Italian parsley, leaves only, finely chopped.

Add 2 cups sliced cooked chicken breast.

Add 1 cup raw shrimp, washed, deveined, roughly chopped to the vegetables when you add the pasta water.

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