Saturday, March 2, 2013

Oven Roasted Vegetables with Lime and Pine Nuts

Winter is still with us here in the Pacific Northwest, and because we get so much cool season rain, it can get a bit dreary this time of year.

Seed catalogs have begun arriving and my thoughts have turned to my summer garden. Last week I did manage to "mud in" my first planting of shelling peas and every day I wander outside and urge them to grow. But in this chilly, wet weather, growing is tough business, and it seems those little pea plants take forever to emerge. But emerge they eventually do, and that more than anything else portends warmer, sunnier days ahead. But patience is a virtue, and sometimes I need more than the promise of spring to come.

So this week I went to the grocery store and bought veggies. Lots and lots of veggies. And when I got home I quickly realized that I would need to make meals that consisted of nothing but those vegetables or they would wilt and turn bad before I got them all eaten.

What to do?

The answer was easy: roast them. Usually when I roast vegetables I'm not very creative; I simply spritz them with olive oil, add salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary and call it good. But this time I was yearning for something different, so I opened up my refrigerator and looked inside. And this is what I came up with:

Oven Roasted Vegetables with Lime and Pine Nuts

Oh my goodness, it was a taste hit! The addition of lime juice really brightened the taste of the vegetables and I plan to do it again soon. Here's a picture of my first bowl:

I will now give you the ingredients along with a rough guesstimate of the amounts. I'm the kind of cook that adds ingredients by mental "taste" instead of being a rigorous measurer. It makes it a bit harder to write out my recipes, but I also like to think it frees up you, dear reader, to be creative in your own right and add the amounts you think are perfect. So here goes:

1 zucchini
1/2 onion
1 large tomato
8 small Russian fingerling potatoes
8 petit button mushrooms
1 carrot
1/2 cup eggplant, skinned and chunked into 1/2-inch cubes (these will be smaller than the other vegetable pieces, but I like it better with the eggplant...but suit yourself)
1/2 cup bell pepper
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/8 cup lime juice (more or less)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Chunk the zucchini, onion, tomato, carrot, and pepper into large, similar sized pieces. If the mushrooms or potatoes seem a bit large, cut them in half also; otherwise leave them whole.

Spray a cookie sheet or baking pan with olive oil and also spray the veggies. Mix them together with the pine nuts, garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper and place them in the baking pan. Drizzle the lime juice over the veggies, being careful to hit all surfaces.

Roast for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven; gently turn vegetables and continue to bake until the edges begin to brown and the vegetables are tender, about another 15 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks.

If the vegetables start getting too dark, turn the oven down to 325 degrees and continue to roast them until they are tender.

You can obviously eat these plain, and with a piece of excellent sourdough bread and butter or a baked chicken breast you have a delightful meal. But here's another idea: Toast a hoagie type roll, spread the toasted roll with a bit of mayonnaise, and pile the veggies on top for a wonderful roasted vegetable sandwich. Quite elegant and very tasty!

Eating plenty of fresh veggies during these dark and dreary winter months helps keep me going until once again the days lengthen, the sun comes out, and my garden grows.

Blessings to you and yours and happy (and healthy!) eating!