roasted root vegetable composé with cipollini onion vinaigrette
yay. autumn. it's my season, but i'll share it. lots of things to roast, things that taste a little like dirt, yeah? to remind us from where we've come. autumn. warm fires (well, i don't have a fireplace, but you know what i mean), orange leaves. orange for cryin' out loud! hot chocolate, warm fuzzy things to wrap all around us and melt within. rain. more rain!
everyone loves summer, so i'm going to be a rebel and love something else. i will love autumn.
these are the things of autumn. the best season. the burnt season where the sun goes way down low and stays there. in the dirt. with the dirty things of autumn. beets and parsnips.
rooty things that dig down deep and scoop up invisible goodies that our bodies need. minerals and stuff. good things that keep our blood strong.
the season of squashes and pumpkins and smoldery-red colored food.
today i decided to tow in my favorite season with this, a composé of loverly things: buttercup squash, it looks like a kabocha, but with a mint green hat, and i think it's sweeter too.
parsnips, fennel bulb, and a scattering of ruby jewels mined from a pomegranate that i got from my friend nona's tree.
a handful of sturdy dandelion spears courted the half-moons of sweet squash, and a cipollini onion vinaigrette pulled the whole thing together. it was a marriage made in heaven. this.
the method to my autumn madness went something like this:
preheat the oven to 425 degrees. while you are preparing your vegetables, your cipollinis should get a head start since they take the longest (about 45 minutes) to make it to the finish line. just toss them in a little olive oil, lay them flat in a cast iron pan and roast.
now slice/chop your vegetables into similar-sized pieces: for the squash, use a large workhorse of a knife. first, slice it in half. then scoop out the seeds, and chop off the head and tail of the thing. carefully carve off the green peel. take your time. and keep the blade moving away from your body and hands. the skin is a bit tough and it does not make for a smooth effort. vigilance, friends, vigilance. when it's expertly peeled, slice the naked orange flesh into 1/2" thick 1/2 moons, toss in olive oil and scatter over a sheet pan covered with parchment (NOTE: the sugars in your rooty things will make them stick when you roast them, and you will lose the lovely, sugary crust to the pan if you do not properly plan things out. parchment allows things to brown, but gives back the crust so you can enjoy it yourself).
peel, halve, then quarter your parsnip lengthwise. toss in olive oil. arrange on a sheet tray.
top and tail your fennel bulb. pull off the tough outer coat, then halve and quarter. toss with a bit of olive oil. arrange on a cast iron pan that has been fitted with parchment.
now sprinkle the veggies with a little salt. make sure that there is ample space between the veggies or they will steam (blech) instead of caramelizing like this:
i was able to roast all of my veggies and the onions at the same time. it just takes some strategizing. have a look: two sheet pans arranged lengthwise in the oven held the parsnips and the squash, and two cast iron pans fit beside them, one held the cipollini onions and one held the fennel slices.
be sure to cool the veggies completely before composing your salad or your dandies will lose their snap.
while the veggies are cooling, you can make the cipollini vinaigrette. you don't have to wait for the flying saucer-shaped allium to cool either. working with them while they are warm is just fine.
here's the how:
toss the veggies with a bit of vinaigrette, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper, working with one type at a time, using a delicate hand, and a sparing one with the vinaigrette. if you toss 'em all together you will wind up with a disgusting looking train wreck. take your time, pretend like you're renoir, and arrange the veggies on a plate. now toss the dandies in some of the vin, sprinkle with salt and pepper, arrange over the veggies. pretty it all up, like. scatter with a few pomegranate seeds. enjoy by the fire (if you have one. if you don't, well, consider moving into a more attractive income bracket).