Saturday, December 10, 2011

roasted root vegetables with mustard/shallot/dill sauce

pity the poor parsnip. its name sounds like an old english measurement (a parsnip of your finest brandy, my good man!) and it looks like a pallid and misshapen carrot. even in the notably unattractive root vegetable family, the parsnip got hit with the ugly stick. its saving grace is that it is quite tasty. well, i guess that's actually its downfall - otherwise we'd probably leave it alone.

i had never cooked parsnips before making this dish. they were featured in a vegetable hash brunch dish i had last week, though, and despite being slightly undercooked, they were delicious. when i noticed them at the produce market later, i snapped some right up.

i decided to roast them, because that's what one should do with any vegetables and especially knobbly root ones. they get all caramelized and soften a little and toast up a little and just generally become much more friendly.

the members of the illustrious allium family are also well served by a trip to the oven. i like to roast scallions with most of their green tops still on - they get all melty and imbue the rest of the vegetables with a pleasant low-key onion flavor that won't attach to your breath like garlic does. you can eat roasted scallions and still go out on a hot date that night!*

*of course, by "go out on a hot date" i usually mean sit on the couch with three snoring dogs taking up most of the cushions, watching parks and recreation. is that not everyone's idea of a hot date? okaaay, then. nevermind. it's still not nice to have garlic breath.

you'll probably want to throw some carrots in there, too. mine were giant monster carrots, so i only used two, but use however many you need in order to end up with about the same amount of carrots and parsnips.

shallots! shallots are awesome in everything. i would probably even give shallot ice cream a try. i doubt that i'd like it, but i'd be willing to try it. that's how awesome shallots are. in everything.

so. alls you do is peel and cut up the carrots and parsnips. actually, first you should turn on the oven so it preheats. for some reason, i set mine at 415. just a little resistance to the oven temperatures-at-25-degree-increments hegemony, i suppose. if you want to do what The Man tells you, go ahead and set it at 425 or 400 and you may have to slightly adjust times accordingly (down or up, respectively, but you knew that, right? i'm sure you did - you're very clever. everyone thinks so).

cut the carrots and parsnips into wedges - i cut the larger parsnips into 1/6ths and the smaller ones in quarters. the carrots i cut in half crosswise and then into quarters. take the little whiskery bits off the bottoms of the scallions and maybe also the outer peel, if they're looking scroungy. trim the tops a bit, but you definitely want to leave most of the greenery intact. peel the shallots and cut them into chunks. shallots come in wildly different sizes, so just use your best judgment. i had mediumish ones and cut them in quarters. take this time to also mince one up for the sauce. you'll need about 2-3 tablespoons, minced.

toss everything together on a large sheet pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. then stick it in your now-hot oven and let it go for 20 minutes. if your vegetables are very small, you might check them after 15, but 20 was perfect for mine. then toss everything around a bit so some of the other sides get a chance to brown. it was at this point that i also added some (already cooked) chicken sausages that i'd halved lengthwise. if you don't have any sausages, i'm sorry, because they were good. put everything back in the oven for 10 minutes.

time to make the sauce! cook the minced shallot over medium heat in about a tablespoon of butter. once it starts smelling really good and getting the tiniest bit brown, add a tablespoon or two of vermouth (or white wine or chicken stock), a tablespoon of dijon mustard (ours happened to be grey poupon), a couple of squeezes of lemon juice (less than a tablespoon, more than a teaspoon), a tablespoon or two of fresh dill, and some salt and pepper. turn the heat down to medium-low and let it cook for perhaps 5 minutes. by then your roasty things should be just about done. if the sauce seems too thick, add some water or broth.

we had our deliciousness over rice, but i think it would also be good with mashed potatoes or some nice crusty bread. the sauce on its own would be good with things like roast chicken or salmon, too. from start to finish, the whole thing takes less than 45 minutes, half of which are unsupervised. not too shabby for a nice wintry roasted dinner to keep the cold at bay. not too shabby.

(you can't really see the sauce in this picture because it isn't there. but picture a nice sauce with lots of dill)

equalish amounts of carrots and parsnips (i used 5 small parsnips and 2 gigantor carrots)
1 bunch scallions (6?)
a few shallots
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper
sausages, if desired

for the sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 tablespoons minced shallot
1-2 tablespoons vermouth, wine, or stock
lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard (this made it quite mustardy, so feel free to use less if you want to tone it down)
1-2 tablespoons fresh dill, torn into bits

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