The weather here at Sithean continues to veer between summer-like warmth and chilly enough to light a fire in the wood stove. Once, even, cold enough to turn on the heat, and usually I hold the line after May 1st pretty hard. Sithean has oil heat, which isn’t cheap on the best of days. Still, it’s starting to warm up generally, and the lilacs are finally starting to bloom. The asparagus bed started producing about 2 weeks ago, and will go another 3-4 weeks. I missed a few to bolting, but there’s still plenty for eating.
For most people, May probably doesn’t seem like a great time to recommend roasted vegetables. But it’s an odd time for eating locally, barring making a few really delicious asparagus frittatas (asparagus, eggs, cheese, potatoes for the crust if you want one) from our eggs, and the occasional lettuce wraps. Farmers markets and CSAs haven’t started up yet, I’m basically out of everything I preserved last year, and it’s grocery store bounty until at least June 1.
I take advantage of the cooler nights to fill the freezer – come August when we go on vacation, I’ll take the meatballs I made tonight and froze, a couple pounds of pasta, and we’ll eat it for dinner our first night away with garlic bread and a salad – a tradition we have not broken in at least a decade. I’ll be making Falafel for the freezer this week too, as well as Bulgogi , a house favorite, especially on the grill. Food prep means there’s always something here to eat if I do it right, so no one (me) has to capitulate to the Takeout Gods.
There’s a few leftovers from my fall crops lying around too – a couple winter squashes that made it this far, and the last of the half-bushel of sweet potatoes to supplement what we are buying. The squashes will be cooked down and the puree saved for soup, but the sweet potatoes are inevitably roasted.
I love sweet potatoes, and while there are lots of ways to prepare them, roasted with various spice coatings is my favorite. It’s also the quickest and the simplest. I keep spice mixtures on hand to toss them in, but salt, pepper and olive oil also works.
Roasting sweet potatoes is simple – preheat oven to 375 degrees, oil a pan, peel and slice the sweet potatoes into half moons or wedges, sprinkle salt, pepper, your favorite spice mixture and drizzle olive oil on top. Bake until soft with crispy edges, 25 minutes or so.
My current favorite is Harissa seasonings, a mix of chili peppers and paprika. I like the smokey flavor it adds. I use Spice Road brand, but any will do.
Another favorite here is Tumeric-roasted cauliflower. When organic cauliflower goes on sale I always pick up a couple heads. Cut the florets from the head (the bunnies get to eat the leftovers), put them in an oiled pan, sprinkle with salt, a generous amount of tumeric, and olive oil over the top. Roast until tender, 45-50 minutes.
The great part of roasted veggies – aside from healthy, cheap and tasty – is that the leftovers can be warmed in the oven repeatedly with no loss of taste or texture.
If you can’t have a warm spring night, at least you can have a warm spring meal.