Turmeric is underrated in America. Its earthiness, bitterness, light sweetness and bright color are all wonderful attributes. I used it when I was in culinary school in some Spanish dishes, some Indian dishes, but that was about the extent. Turmeric isn’t humble, and it isn’t shy, but it’s also not loud and bold. It’s kind of like that overly smart, nerdy kid who never talks and sits in the back of Algebra class who just doesn’t bother because he knows that everyone has already pre-judged him. (I always felt bad for that kid. More than that, I really wanted to be his friend. But he always thought I was making fun of him, so he ignored my efforts.) I chose turmeric for the same reason I chose to befriend that kid: they deserve some well meaning effort and general kindness. That’s really tragic, so we’re going to move on to less dark analogies now.
Turmeric is like turmeric. I can’t really compare it to anything else. It’s perfect on these vegetables, and all those in my life whom I have exposed to this recipe have loved the addition of it, too. I’m not a raw vegetable person, and I’m not a steamed vegetable person, and saute is good for the spring time, but roasties are a staple in a state where it’s below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 months out of the year. Most of my recipes come about because I’m trying to figure out what to do with all of the stuff at the back of my fridge, and this was no different. Onions, potatoes, and some carrots from the farmers market combined with a head of cauliflower to accompany some lemon chicken, and I tell you, I have no regrets. (Except my remark about the nerdy kid.) The beauty of this particular combination is that the onions get very soft and blackish/charred, the cauliflower takes on a silky texture with ruffly, crisp edges, the carrots have a bit of a bite and the potatoes are crispy and soft both. If you are stuck in a roasted vegetable rut or want something easy to toss with pasta, pile on jasmine rice, or eat alongside your meat of choice and a salad, try these.
1 head of cauliflower
2 yellow onions
5-8 small bunch carrots from the farmers market or organic section of your grocery store
2 medium sized russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit. Core the cauliflower by cutting it in half and slicing the core out on either side. Lay each half of the cauliflower on its side and slice it about 1/4 inch thick. You want the slices to be thin and it’s alright if they crumble. Slice each of the cauliflower halves this way.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and slice them thinly. Cut the onions in half and remove either end. Remove the peel. Slice them widthwise about 1/3 of an inch thick. Hopefully the carrots you bought were no more than 2″ long. If they are, cut them down to about that length, then cut them into four wedges each. Put the lot of them all in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and lemon juice.
In a small bowl, mug or ramekin, combine the turmeric, coriander and chile flakes. Add this mix to the vegetables and toss with your hands or a wooden spoon. Now add as much salt and pepper as you think they need. (This is different for everyone, so there is no way I am putting an amount.) I used a few generous pinches of each.
Lay out your vegetables on one or two roasting pans (lined with foil, optionally). You want them to be in a single layer NOT touching…this will allow the vegetables enough room to cook each at their own pace and brown on the edges…the caramelization is what you want! If they are crowded, they will end up steamed at the end, which will completely erase the purpose of the oven in this recipe. Roast the vegetables for 15 minutes, stir and roast for 10-15 more. After this, if your vegetables are not browned enough for your liking, you can roast them at 500ºF very briefly or broil them for a few minutes at a time. Serve hot.
2 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
a good amount of finely chopped parsley and chives
Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until soft and mellow, but not colored or crispy at all. This is just intended to take the raw edge off. Add the lemon zest and minced herbs when the oil is still warm, but not on the stove, just to wilt them. Transfer to a bowl and spoon over the individual servings of vegetables.