This week may very well be the fattest of the entire year: Thanksgiving and the various religious winter holidays are in the recent past; New Year’s resolutions don’t take effect till Saturday; that delicious, creamy carton of eggnog (343 calories per eight ounces) is singing its siren song from the refrigerator. If you’re like me, you are burned out on anything resembling a pie, cookie or piece of fudge (not eggnog though, never eggnog).
But from where I’m sitting, it’s ridiculously cold and New York City is just beginning to dig out from a blizzard that happened…three days ago. So while the thought of sugar and butter makes me queasy, the thought of living on salads and yogurt kind of does too.
Enter the roasted root vegetables. Saucy ones, naturally.
Like most things that come out of the slow cooker or roasting pan, it looks much prettier at the beginning than at the end. This has lots of nutrients and flavor, very little fat and no sugar. The great thing about this was that I used odds and ends from our holiday feast, without giving it much thought. You can pretty much use any substantial vegetable, though I’d stay away from things with leaves. And peas.
- Two large beets, peeled with a potato peeler and sliced
- Two cups of baby carrots
- A large zucchini
- Five red potatoes, unpeeled, chopped
- One yellow bell pepper, chopped
- Two large onions, cut into big chunks
For the sauce
- An eighth of a cup of cooking sherry
- A third of a cup of good balsamic vinegar
- A quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil
- The cloves of an entire bulb of garlic, peeled and whole
- A tablespoon of whole peppercorns
- A teaspoon of sea salt
- Red pepper flakes to taste (I like a lot–a couple of tablespoons)
- A few tablespoons of dried Mediterranean herbs–tarragon, thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, whatevs
Here’s what I did
I combined all of the sauce ingredients in my sweet new blender and pulsed until everything was emulsified. It should be smooth and thick, with a few chunks of peppercorn here and there. (Now’s the time to taste the concoction and adjust.) Then I poured it over the chopped veggies in the slow cooker, set it on low and cooked for eight hours. I stirred it a few times and set the lid ajar for the last hour so the extra liquid would evaporate.
And…that’s it. Easy!
Obviously you can do this in the oven, too. I would plan on two hours in a 400-degree oven. Cover the pan with foil for the first hour and a half or so and then take it off. You may need to use more oil than you would in the slow cooker, but you can add it midway if need be.