Roasted Veggies, sweet and hot

I don’t know where you get your root vegetables, but mine don’t come spicy … and i likes ’em that way.

So standing in the kitchen with a glass of red wine and Jean Shepherd’s “Christmas Story” on fridge TV, I went through a bunch of recipes. Darren McGavin was changing the tire and when Ralphie let loose the F-bomb, I said to myself “WTF!” There were no interesting recipes!

As a public service project, I set out to design the perfect (and perfectly easy) hot and sweet root veggie roast.


Hot and sweet is a new combination for me. I hadn’t even considered it until a few months ago, when Chef Jim invited me to his Mexican fest at HACC. Then Curtis Vreeland came back from some World Chocolate Extravaganza with a Wasabi & Honey dark chocolate bar. Oh, my.

Enough talk. Turn the oven on to 450 and get a large bowl.

Take a butternut squash, the easiest of winter squash to peel and slice. Peel and slice into pieces about an inch thick by two inches long. Slice a sweet potato or two the same way. Now emphasize the sweetness in both these vegetables by adding a couple eating apples (like Fuji or Gala), peeled and cut into chunks.

Add a parsnip or a turnip if you like.

Quarter some red onions and break a large head of garlic into cloves, but don’t peel or smash the cloves. Slice up some bell peppers — I like the red, yellow and orange combo.

Put all of this in your big bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the produce, add kosher salt, grind some black pepper on the mix and reach into the cupboard for your big jar of Chipotle Powder.

Say what? You don’t have a big jar of Chipotle Powder? Jeez. Okay, get in your car, drive to Costco or Sam’s, and get a big jar of Chipotle Powder. The veggies will wait quietly in their bowl until you return.

Aaah, you’re back. Sprinkle the Chipotle Powder on the produce.

Now grasp the bowl by the edge, using both hands, and flip the mix. First time flipper? Start gently, and take half a dozen flips if you need to. Nobody’s watching. When you can’t see any salt, pepper or chipotle on the veggies, drizzle more olive oil on them and sprinkle the seasonings again. Flip some more if you want to.

Spread the mix on a sheet pan or two, so that it’s a single layer. Put the sheet pans in the 450 oven and check back in 20 to 30 minutes. When a fork goes through the sweet potato easily, everything’s done. Pull the sheet pans out and grate some Parmesano Reggiano over the mix.

If your guests are a fussy bunch, peel the garlic cloves before service; if not, they can peel their own.

Serve the veggies by themselves, or on brown rice.


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