Hello Fall! It’s a welcome coincidence that I planned this post on the first day it actually feels like Fall here in New Orleans. The official start of the season, the Fall Equinox, occurred last night making today the first day of Fall. Along with the change of the seasons, comes the change of whats available in the produce aisle. I do my best to eat seasonally. This practice allows me to take advantage of the nutritional peaks occurring in fruits, vegetables, and even protein. (Their diets affect our diets more than most people know.) This habit also leads me to having some major cravings for specific foods when the season finally presents itself through the weather. During Fall, I probably eat my weight in orange colored foods. I can never buy enough warming spices like cinnamon and my roasting pan is in constant use.
Luckily, I had scheduled a delivery from my favorite place to shop for produce. I am a regular costumer/addict of Good Eggs, an online market featuring local produce, food items, and even florals. This week I was thrilled to see many different types of “winter”squash offered in their produce section. I loaded up with Delicata, Butternut and Spaghetti squash, along with some local sweet potatoes. Roasting is one of my favorite ways of preparing a root vegetable. The dry heat of the oven concentrates the flavors while caramelizing the natural occurring sugars turning them into the best versions of their raw selves. Now, I consider myself a very good cook. My method might not follow recipes or measurements to the T but in my experience that exactness in cooking makes a good baker rather then a chef. I ask you to bare with my “pinch of that, a bit of this” style of instructions.
What you’ll need:
1 medium sized Delicata Squash
1 medium sized Butternut Squash
3 or more small to medium sized Sweet Potatoes
(You can use any meaty, winter squash of your choice with the exception of spaghetti squash. I feel it should be cooked on it own due to the consistency. Feel free to switch up the sweet potatoes for yams or any variety you’d like.)
Unrefined Coconut Oil
Course Ground Black Pepper
-Pre Heat oven to 425*
-Rinse all veggies to remove dirt and debris.
-Prepare Delicata and Butternut Squash by cutting in half lengthwise. Pry the two sides apart to scoop out the seeds and pulp. Butternut has a reservoir of seeds in the round bell part of the squash. While Delicata has seeds throughout. The sweet potatoes need no additional prep.
-Chop the squash and the sweet potatoes into small to medium sized pieces. The shape and size is a personal preference. I personally chop mine to a size that doesn’t need additional cutting with a knife (bite sized). Keep in mind the thicker the pieces the longer they take to cook.
-Place chopped vegetables in roasting pan. Size of the pan depends on the amount of your squash and sweet potatoes. I choose a pan that will leave at least a half inch of space to the top. Some recipes for roasting call for the vegetables to be evenly spaced out without touching but I find when I’m preparing a large amount of these this isn’t really realistic.
-Pour in a small amount of warm water to the bottom of the pan. The water shouldn’t cover the entire bottom. I find adding water to the roasting process steams the vegetables a bit first before being evaporated. This leads to the vegetables that are soft and tender on the inside and caramelized on the outside. I suggest the water to be slightly warm or room temperature so the coconut oil won’t solidify when added.
-Add enough coconut to the vegetables to coat them evenly. This amount depends on the amount of vegetables you are cooking. I believe the rule of thumb is 1 tbsp for every 2 lbs but as I explained measuring is not my style. Unrefined Coconut oil is the only oil I use while cooking because of it’s ability to stand up to the high temperature and keep it’s nutritional value. If you don’t use this go to the store immediately and get some. It is a wonder oil. I could go on for days about it’s benefits but instead I will direct you to this article.
-Add seasoning. I mix up my blend of seasoning depending on the rest of menu. My go to seasonings are cinnamon, red pepper of some variety, white pepper, which I’m obsessed with thanks to my grandmother, and course ground black pepper. I love the texture it adds. You can also add herbs like sage or rosemary. This flavor combination makes me think of Thanksgiving dinner.
-Before putting them in the oven, give the vegetables a good stir to ensure that the oil and seasoning evenly coat the pieces. I like to position the pan on the top rack right in the middle.
-Cook for 30 -45 minutes. You’ll want to check the veggies halfway through the cooking time to give them another stir and check on their progress. You’ll know they are done when the fork easily pierces the vegetable taking a little bit of the fiber with it when removed. Sometimes if there is a lot of moisture in the vegetables, I’ll place them under the broiler for the last 5 minutes. This ensures the veggies take on that caramelized outside. As well as adding a little char color.
-Eat and Enjoy. You can serve these as a delicious side or as the main player. I tend to cook a large amount with the intention of adding them to my lunch salads for the week. Just like gumbo, I find roasted vegetables as leftovers only get better over the next couple of days. You can even freeze them at the prep stage to cook any night of the week.
About the Author: Jenn Rogers is the General Manager of Reyn Studios. She strives towards health through her multiple movement practices and her nutritional knowledge. You can find her spending most of her days either working in the studio, lurking in the LGD, or biking all around this great city.