When in Doubt…Roast.

Our new(ish) membership in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) means that each week we get a box of produce delivered to our door every week.  As much as I love to cook and thought I would dive into that box each week with abandon, I find myself struggling with a common challenge that many other CSA-supporters mention:  how to be creative with unexpected ingredients.

Ingredients that are native to Southeast Asia (but rare or unheard of in my native North America) are particularly challenging.

Like these moonflowers – any ideas on how to cook these pretty little guys?

The great thing about a CSA is getting to try new things.

The challenge with a CSA is figuring out how to try these new things.

For just about everything (except for the fruit and greens), the easiest answer is roasting.  I fire up the oven to 450 degrees F, chop everything into evenly-sized pieces and put them in the oven.  Just about everything comes out tender, caramelized, and delicious by itself or, as in the recipe below, tossed in a sweet combination of balsamic vinegar and a bit of honey.

It is not terribly common for apartments in Bangkok to have ovens.  When we moved here, I figured I would take whatever we got – oven or not.

Now, two years in, I’m not sure what I would do without one.  Sure, wok cooking makes a lot of sense in this hot climate, but it was not the answer I was looking for when it came to experimenting with these sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes) that came in the CSA box last weekend.

The arrived crusted in dirt and looking a bit gnarly (they remind me of ginger root), but armed with a pre-heated oven and a bunch of other vegetables, I knew just what to do with them.  Hello, flavor.  Sunchokes are slightly sweet, more firm than a potato, but somehow reminiscent of those other similarly dirt-dwelling starches.  If you have never tried sunchokes, I highly recommend them, but this recipe would work well with just about any vegetable.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 6 as a side
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2½ pounds assorted vegetables, cut into ½ inch cubes or rounds (I used butternut squash, carrots, and sunchokes but sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, eggplant or mushrooms would be great)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and mustard in a small jar with a lid and shake to combine. (Dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Just shake well before using.)
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  3. Toss vegetables and onion in a large bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add dressing; toss to coat. Divide between 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Roast until vegetables are tender and slightly brown around edges,stirring every 15 minutes to brown all sides, about 40 minutes.

Thank you, CSA.  And thank you, oven.

Comments

  1. says

    Those moon flowers are gorgeous! Great shot! I love Jerusalem artichokes. Such a wonderful nutty flavour when they are roasted. They’re surprisingly easy to find in Sweden, which is a treat for us. I have also roasted greens before, so I’d definitely give that a try. Or a stirfry? What do moon flowers taste like?
    Katie (The Muffin Myth) recently posted..porridge nuggetsMy Profile

    • says

      The Jerusalem artichokes were such a surprise to me too, but I loved them. That’s the first time I’ve ever had them, even though they were becoming pretty popular in the US when I left. Roasted greens are on the list – you ladies have definitely convinced me!

  2. says

    I had a similar CSA dilemma recently with red radishes, which I don’t ordinarily like, but roasted with carrots and onions? Delicious!! I still haven’t decided what to make with the lemongrass I got last week — I’m afraid whatever I do with it will make me miss Thailand (and you guys) too much, but I’m open to suggestions… :)
    Alyssa recently posted..Princeton & Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin CookiesMy Profile

    • says

      Ooo red radishes!? I was never terribly big on radishes, until we moved here and can’t get them. Now I miss them – crazy how that works! As you’ve seen firsthand, we consume lemongrass around here like it’s goin’ out of style. It’s a great excuse to make some Laab Gai… you know that’s what Frank would do with it – he can’t get enough of the stuff.

      • Frank says

        When I lived in the States and did not know what to eat for dinner, I would make a turkey sandwich. This meant that I ate turkey sandwiches approximately three to four times per week. Now that turkey and cheese have proven to be elusive in Bangkok, laab is my official ‘what the heck am I going to cook tonight’ dish. Thankfully, I have a patient wife… who likes laab more than turkey sandwiches.

        • says

          You have a wife who thinks your laab might be even be better than what we get at Sticky Rice Son (and you know that’s saying something).

          Although these days, I could go for a classic Frank-perfected Turkey Sandwich with a smear of butter.

    • says

      Julia – we tend to keep it really simple when we roast veggies, usually just a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, but somehow adding balsamic and dijon makes it seem like an entirely new dish. Let me know what you think!

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