Monday, March 3, 2014

Roasted Vegetable Sliders

It's raining in Seattle.  Big news, huh?  

I have to confess, I love grey days with lots of drizzle.  The tiny Anna's and Rufus hummingbirds love it too. The best part of rainy days for me?  

Roasted root vegetables are often on the menu.

Taco sliders came to mind when I spotted the corn tortillas in the refrigerator. They'd be perfect with roasted root vegetables and black beans, but when I found a can of butter beans in my pantry, I thought why not make some quirky taco sliders with butter beans? You can use any kind of beans you like, or try seitan or chunks of sauteed tofu.

You can get sweet potatoes or yams at the farmers market now for $2.49 a pound, or you can buy them in a grocery store.  I love local flavors and get them when I can, but do whatever your budget allows because this recipe is all about roasting.

What can be easier than roasted vegetables? 

That's what I'd always thought. But recently I discovered not everyone is on the same page when it comes to roasting.

Last week I learned that local chefs often parboil potatoes before roasting them.  "The texture and taste is better," a farmer at the market told me.  I nodded, but as we walked away my friend said, "Parboiling? What's that?"

Parboiling is an old-fashioned term, but the  technique is exactly like blanching, except for the ice water bath at the end. In both techniques, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the vegetables and cook briefly to set the color and activate enzymes. Strain the vegetables, and for blanching rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. For parboiling, once the vegetables are parboiled, you can then use them in cooking.

Bringing the pot of water to a boil, etc, seems significantly more work for a home cook, so I tried an experiment this past weekend. I parboiled half the vegetables I cooked and I cut the others and roasted them raw.  Both were tossed in oil.

The end result?  The vegetables that were parboiled, were slightly sweeter and retained more moisture when roasted.  

The taste difference was not enough to induce a lazy chef like me that home cooks need to "parboil" vegetables before cooking.

Roasting times:

Another rumor I heard recently was rutabagas take longer to roast than carrots.  So I deliberately used different vegetables and roasted them for the same amount of time.

I set the temperature to 425F.  Tossed all the vegetables with a bit of oil and roasted them for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent burning or sticking.

The garnet yam, carrots, turnip and rutabaga were all roasted in 30 minutes.

Some people think roasting is only done in an oven.  But what about the fire roasted peppers at the market?

River Farm at the University District Market


Other experts insist roasting is done without any covering but what about foil covered roasted garlic?

The more I found out, the more I wanted to know more about this technique that many people define differently.  And why are potatoes in foil called baked while garlic in foil is called roasted?  

If not adding any liquid is part of the roasting process, why does Barbara Kafka use liquid with roasted vegetable in Roasting: The Simple Art?

While many chefs say roasted vegetables should be cut into uniform pieces, some recipes defy this rule laid out in The Roasted Vegetable by Andrea Chessman. 

Garlic, peppers, carrots and even cauliflower can be roasted as whole vegetables.

Are there any rules at all for roasting?   It seems like it depends on which cookbooks, blogs or websites you read or what your friends tell you. 

Who wouldn't want these amazing tiny carrots from Willie Greens Organic Farm left whole? 

For this recipe, I cut everything to the same size, only because I was estimating the timing for different vegetables.

One of the delicious things about roasting without any liquid or covered in foil, is the oil and heat caramelize the outside and make the vegetable sweeter.

I cooked the onions and mushrooms with a little olive oil, adding the butter beans and a few leaves of baby collard greens in the last few minutes of cooking.

Roasted Vegetable Sliders with Butter Beans
(Serves 4 to 6)

6 small corn tortillas
Canola oil, enough to coat the bottom of a small pan, plus 2 tablespoons

1 rutabaga, root trimmed, small dice
1 turnip, root and top trimmed, small dice
1 large carrot, small dice or matchsticks
1 small sweet potato or yam, small dice
1 small onion, diced
1 cup small shiitake mushrooms, or sliced larger mushrooms
1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup salsa
Slices of avocado, chopped tomatoes, sliced green onions and chopped olives
1 cup chopped cilantro 

Heat oil in a skillet and fry corn tortillas until almost crisp.  Remove tortillas and place on an absorbent towel.   

Heat oven to 425F.  Place rutabaga, turnips, carrot and sweet potato in a single layer in a shallow baking dish.  Toss with 2 tablespoons canola oil.  Roast on a rack close to the heat for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to brown evenly.

While vegetables roast, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and shiitake mushrooms.  Stir and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add about a tablespoon of oil, butter beans and 1/4 cup salsa.  Cook for about 5 minutes.

Place roasted vegetables and butter bean-mixture on tortillas.  You can top it with avocado, tomatoes, green onions and chopped olives, and garnish with cilantro, or enjoy it plain with a little salsa.

And try not to tempt your Cooking Assistant too much. 


Joan said...

I absolutely love roasted vegies...crispy, carmelized, delish! I think i'll go turn on the oven!! :)

Miz Helen said...

I would just love you Vegetable Sliders, they look awesome. All those onions hanging looks like our barn where we hang the onions every year. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday, it is so nice to have you with us today. Have a great weekend and come back soon!
Miz Helen

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks for visiting Joan and Helen--I never get tired of roasted vegetables--well maybe when the grills come out.