I Hate(d) Vegetables
Recipe: Balsamic Roasted Root Vegetables

Not sure if I've mentioned this before, but this former farmer, all e-i-e-i-oh how I love growing my own organic food, currently enjoying a "plant-forward" (that's how they say lotsa vegetables these days) diet, has some skeletons in her pantry. This Little Miss Farmers' Market Chef and supporter used to......shhhhhhhh......

hate vegetables

! ! ! ! ! ! ! {insert horror movie sound effects}

Oh I tolerated a few. I always thought potatoes were pretty cool. I liked canned green beans, cooked to death with bacon and extra sodium, please, and salad. Specifically iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumbers, chopped scallions, and tomato wedges. With dressing. Lots of it. Because that is the salad of my childhood. And those, the veggies.

Of course my mother tried to expand my horizons. There were canned black eyed peas. Canned green peas. Canned corn. Canned hominy-- all enriched with a healthy dose of bacon grease. Frozen broccoli, cooked until limp and yellow, smothered in Campbell's cheese gloop soup. Those were proper vegetables in the sixties seventies.

Occasionally my mother would have some crazy midlife wild culinary hair, and steam a head of FRESH (!!!) cauliflower. TO DEATH. She'd seen the "recipe" in Family Circle. She'd disguise it under a blanket of melted cheddar. I'd eat the cheddar. There was the rare, but equally bland, boiled, TO DEATH but FRESH, squarsh, as my Midwestern mother called it. Apparently salt would have caused disaster for the boiled and steamed. We were spared the pernicious effects of adequate over seasoning.

She'd stuff bell peppers with ground beef and rice and some (canned) tomatoes (gross). I'd eat the stuffing, dragging every little bit of pinkish red flesh from the pile and hiding it under my dinner roll. I was always ready to sacrifice the bread to provide shelter for the undesired. Which took a pretty big dinner roll. I was allowed to eat the stuffing and leave the grey-ish, revolting boiled bell pepper shell, but the edible part, in my eyes, was ruined, still, by the overpowering, overcooked  beyond hope of fresh green bitterness. No worries. Mom would melt some cheddar over it.

No cheddar cheese could mask the childhood horror of stewed okra. With canned tomatoes. None. Not. Enough. Cheese.

My mother was beautiful and kind, devoted and supportive. She was the most fastidious housekeeper I've ever known. She could simply look at a dress in the store, and get home with fabric and notions the very same day to crank it out under the whirrrr of a needle, humming satisfactorily well into the wee hours. She once made me a pale pink crepe-back satin formal jumpsuit with a satin cumberbund for a thespian banquet that I told her about 4 hours before my ride arrived. She stayed up all night hammering out helping with our school projects. Teachers breathlessly praised her our handiwork and called in their cohorts to see what the perfectly tidy twins had accomplished. Her penmanship was the envy of the best calligraphers, she carved a perfect pumpkin, she created AMAZING costumes-- dance recitals, cheerleaders' uniforms, four year old toy machine gun-toting trick or treating Bonnie and Clydes, Living History Days' Clara Bartons and Native Americans, Christmas pageant Marys and Josephs, the requisite get-ups for Y-Indian Guides, Bluebirds, Camp Fire Girls. and later, everyone's costumes for at least one or two of her daughter's frequent theatrics. My mother made June Cleaver look like a grunge rocker. She was impeccable at everything she attempted.

Except vegetables. She'd readily admit that she was not exactly in her happy place in the kitchen. Her utensil of choice was a can opener. That's what I knew of vegetables. I ate potatoes and canned green beans and salad alongside my protein for half of my life. And I liked it just fine.

And then came that crazy experiment. That six-year long farming foray into seasonal eating. I'd eat, I asserted, almost entirely what I could grow or raise with my own Farmers' Almanac clutched in my tight little garden-gloved fist. I hadn't the room to raise cows or pigs, and I had gone and NAMED the goats so that meat was out. (I did eventually name one of the more unlikable goats Sausage. And he was delicious.) I hated plucking chickens. I managed to milk a goat and make some cheese, and eggs were easy and plentiful, but that left a lot of blank space on my plate, and there was a lot of growing going on in, and in spite of, that impossibly rocky soil, and heavens-to-Betsy I was going to learn how to cook, and eat....VEGETABLES.

If you've been following along, you know the rest of the story. The pages of this blog are filled to overflowing with vegetable-heavy recipes. I've flirted with ....shhhhh....veganism! I joyfully embraced a raw foods diet for exactly one month. I've honored Meatless Mondays for months of Sundays, and now, well now I'm amazed at myself to say.....


FRESH vegetables. Asparagus and beetroot and parsnips and brussels sprouts and turnips and BEANS and GREENS-- lots of them. And I've learned my favorite ways to prepare them to bring out their best and most flavorful-- simply.

On Mondays, these days, and in the spirit of the Meatless Monday tradition, I prepare a batch of fresh, seasonal vegetables to eat the entire week, following. One of my favorite methods for bringing out the best in these little gifts from the earth is roasting. It's healthy. It's easy. It's delicious. It's like dialing it in, all in one pan. And all of those vegetables I'd simply pass on my way to the canned goods aisle are now the stars of my plate. I think you'll like roasted vegetables, too. Grab a pan. Let's get down to business.

1 bunch each, parsnips, carrots, radishes, red beets, and golden beats,scrubbed clean, greens removed and reserved for later use (try THIS). I leave them unpeeled-- I prefer the texture and the healthy helping of fiber, but feel free to peel them if you choose. Quarter the beets, halve the radishes, slice the carrots and parsnips into bite-sized pieces.

A couple of small apples-- I used the dainty, tart crabapples that a local farmer grew, halved, but any small apple will do, quartered. I also added 2 small sweet onions, halved. Quarter them, also, if any larger than, say, a tennis ball.

Grapeseed oil, to coat the roasting pan, a drizzle of walnut oil, optional, a healthier pour of good-quality aged balsamic vinegar (I used a fig balsamic), and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a scant teaspoon of dried herbes de provence, or any preferred fresh or dried herbs, a grating of one small finger of fresh ginger, and a few grinds of freshly-cracked black pepper.

Finishing salt-- I used a favorite, Maldon salt flakes, but a simple but coarser ground Kosher salt is a great option, too.

Note: Roasting root vegetables releases their natural sugars-- their inherent sweetness is enhanced by the balsamic, as well. However adding a slight trickle of honey or maple syrup to the mix wouldn't be bad, at all if you're accommodating a slightly sweet tooth.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat roasting pan with a light shimmer of grapeseed oil. Toss vegetables together with preferred herbs and seasonings, and dress with balsamic and walnut oil, honey, or maple syrup, if using. (Hint: I separate the beetroot, to minimize "bleeding" onto the remaining vegetables. It works slightly.) Cover pan with lid, or aluminum foil, and roast for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are just fork tender. Uncover, and roast about 10 minutes longer. Toss, and plate.

Serve as is, or dress things up a bit with a touch of chevre, feta cheese, or a spoonful of labneh (Try it homemade. EASY.). Probably not cheddar.

This batch yields about 4 side servings of vegetables, or 2 healthy entrees.

This is just one of the seasonal assembly of roasted vegetables in my arsenal. I roast everything! I love turnips or brussels sprouts with sweet potatoes, strawberries and black pepper with fennel and asparagus, butternut squash and kale with raisins, boy choy with carrots and shitake mushrooms, roasted tomatoes with eggplant, garlic, and fresh parsley-- really the combinations are endless. A culinary rule of thumb is that vegetables that GROW together, GO together. What are YOUR favorite vegetable combinations?


  1. I would have never thought of adding apples. I'll give it a try. jean

    1. Miss Jean, I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment!

      Best Regards,


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