Quick Roasted Roots

By Monday afternoon it was clear that this was going to be a rough workweek. I made it home by 8:00 the next night, but I still had some urgent work to do. And I was seriously hungry. In the crisper, I found some (slightly moldy) turnips, carrots and a garlic bulb that were left over from a trip to the farmers market a few weeks back. I could work with this.

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Most home cooks know how to roast root vegetables in the oven. (Toss the vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper; spread them in baking pan; and roast at 400-450 until they are cooked.) But sometimes it’s just too hot or you are just in too big a hurry to consider turning on the oven. Here’s a basic technique for roasting root vegetables on the stovetop.

  1. Bring a cast iron skillet up to medium heat with just a little oil. In this case, I used a tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Add your aromatics. I used six whole peeled garlic cloves, which I toasted in the oil until they were fragrant and starting to brown. You could also use onion, shallots, garlic scapes, leeks, etc.
  3. Dice your roots and add to the pan. I used three medium turnips (with the moldy bits cut off) and seven carrots, which yielded enough food to pack away an extra serving for some future food emergency. You could also use rutabaga, potatoes, beets, parsnips, any hard squash, yams, fennel, and probably a bunch of other things I’m not thinking of.
  4. Stir occasionally. You want to allow each piece prolonged contact with the cast iron to promote delicious crispy bits. This also allows you time to log into your work email and put out a few fires.
  5. Add seasoning. I used sea salt, cayenne, black pepper and dried thyme. Fresh herbs would be nice–rosemary, parsley and the like.
  6. Make it a meal. The cupboard is pretty bare at the moment, so I went with a frozen Boca Burger that had seen better days. A piece of sausage, a turkey burger or a fried egg would work. Just push your vegetables to one side of the pan to make room to cook your protein and you’ve got some seriously easy cleanup!

Thirty minutes after walking in the door, I had finished work for the night and was sitting down to a healthy dinner. And lo, there was a glass worth of Vouvray left in the bottle.

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