I’ve been feeding my dog the exact same food everyday since the day we adopted her over 10 years ago. And I don’t mean just the same brand – I mean the exact same flavor of canned and dry. Don’t feel bad for her. Every now and then I’ve given her something new – just to mix things up. She won’t eat it. And she’s a gal who loves to eat. So I gave up. I’ve decided that unless she comes to me and complains, she will continue to get the same old, same old.
One day my husband was watching me dish out my dog’s food and, with pity in his voice, remarked how boring it must be for her to eat the same thing everyday. I couldn’t believe my ears. This from the man who’s been eating Quaker Instant Raisins and Spice Oatmeal EVERY MORNING for as long as I can remember. Our cupboards are filled with boxes of it so we don’t (God forbid) run out – even though I go to the market several times a week. (And don’t get me started about how much money we could save if he’d just buy the big canisters of plain oatmeal and add in his own raisins and spices.) Of course, I pointed out the irony of his concern.
You may be wondering what my dog’s and my husband’s meal proclivities have to do with a vegetarian cooking blog. I’m glad you asked. Almost without fail, my family has broccoli with our dinner. We all love it (except for my youngest son, who hates pretty much all vegetables), it’s healthy, and steaming it is a snap. My husband sometimes even has it at lunch, too. What can I say – he’s a man who knows what he likes. (Thank goodness I’m on that list.) I suppose people are creatures of habit, but we were in very deep rut.
Back in my carnivorous days, I used to make roasts surrounded by carrots and potatoes. The fat from the roast, combined with the long roasting period, would caramelize the surrounding veggies. They were SO good! But once I stopped roasting meat, I stopped roasting veggies. I do have a delicious recipe for carrots with pistachio nuts in a Cointreau/butter sauce – but that’s too much work for an everyday dinner. So it was steamed broccoli, with asparagus or cauliflower – when I thought about it – for variety.
But, did it have to be so? I asked myself. (I have a tendency to talk to myself – I pretend it’s to my pets, but I’m not fooling anyone.) What if I coat carrots with vegetable oil and bake them, as I would with the roast. Hmmmm! I wondered. The skies cleared! The angels sang! It was a joyous moment when I took that first bite. Yes! They were sweet; they were tender; they were pretty. And thus began a new go-to side dish in our home: roasted carrots.
Roasted carrots are super fast to put together and take 20-30 minutes to bake, depending on the oven temperature. If I want them as fast as possible, I bake them at 400ºF, maybe even 425ºF. But if I’m baking a main dish at a lower temperature, I’ll put the carrots along side it in the oven, and just roast them longer. I haven’t noticed a different in taste between roasting fast at a higher temperature, or slower at a lower one. They’re always good.
- carrots cut into 2″ pieces (I buy the bags of cut carrots)
- oil (I use canola)
Use a baking pan with sides (such as a jelly roll pan or a broiler pan) so the carrots don’t roll off over the side when you stir. Pour a little puddle of oil in the middle of the pan – I don’t measure, but for 2 people I use approximately 1 T oil. Then pour the carrots onto the pan and roll them in the oil, so they’re completely coated. Roll the carrots around on the pan to grease the bottom, then spread them out so they don’t touch. Bake at 350ºF – 425ºF, depending on how fast you need them and/or whether you’re baking something else at the same time. Stir the carrots every 10 minutes, until they’re DARK brown on the parts that touch the pan bottom. Best served right away.
NOTE: As you know, I’m a fan of making things from scratch, and avoiding pre-made items. That being said, I do buy the bags of pre-cut carrots. I’m not recommending this, though. It’s just that it’s so darned fast to open the bag and pour the already prepared carrots onto the jelly roll pan. But SOMEDAY – I swear – I’m going to start buying whole carrots and clean and cut them myself. I will! But for now, at least I’ve expanded our side dish repertoire. Baby steps.