I think this may be one of my all-time favorite vegetable dishes. The vegetables are roasted in a hot oven with Fennel Spice until they caramelize, which gives them a depth of flavor that makes them seem almost meaty. Use this recipe as a template, substituting other vegetables as the market provides. Some, like Brussels sprouts, will need to be blanched first. More tender produce, like mushrooms or peeled winter squash, can be added without precooking. Apple wedges are a nice addition in the fall.
3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled,
cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal
into 1/2-inch-thick slices
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound red onions, each halved and cut
into 6 or 8 wedges through the root end
1 fennel bulb, halved lengthwise and cut
into 1/2-inch-wide wedges through the core
3/4 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed,
cut on the diagonal into 1-1/2-inch lengths
2 zucchini, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise,
and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon fennel seed, crushed in a mortar or spice grinder
Sea salt, preferably gray salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Put the potatoes in a large pot of cold, well-salted water. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots and simmer for about 1 minute longer. Drain.
Heat a very large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and carrots. Cook for about 1 minute, then add the onions and cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until the vegetables are nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat if needed to keep them from burning.
Add the fennel bulb, asparagus, zucchini, Fennel Spice or crushed fennel seed, and salt to taste. Toss well to distribute the seasonings. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and toss again. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the vegetables are deeply caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring them occasionally so they cook evenly. Serve immediately.
Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking
Wine Country Recipes for Family and Friends
by Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher
Photographs by Deborah Jones
216 pp; 109 color photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created December 2002
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