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Eat more veggies, they say

Everywhere I look — on food blogs, health columns and tv programs — I’m admonished to eat more veggies! Now Jackie is on the bandwagon.

Well, fine.

Jackie used to occasionally scare me with her Japanese mother’s back-country cooking influence. Some of those Japanese Hot Pots (or Donabe) looked pretty suspicious, loaded with unrecognizable, simmering things. She made many adjustments in her cooking style since our move here, and one is roasting vegetables instead of stewing them.

So here is a simple, generic recipe for roasted vegetables that I like. This recipe is very versatile; we have used the technique for a dozen different combinations of ingredients. The one we have here is garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), potatoes, red cabbage, and broccoli. Whatever you happen to have in your refrigerator will work just fine.

Cabbage and broccoli.

1)  Chop the vegetables into bite-size pieces and toss them with some light oil, and a dash of toasted sesame seed oil.

2) Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder,  and whatever else you enjoy, curry, chipotle powder, paprika, Italian seasoning, etc. Don’t be afraid to experiment; vegetables are very forgiving.

3)  Toss to spread oil and seasonings evenly;  4)  Spread them on an oiled sheet pan;  5) Place in medium-hot oven (350 – 400 degrees F) and roast for 30 minutes.

It helps to know approximately how long each of these ingredients takes to roast, so you can start with most firm ones and add ingredients as you go along.

The ingredients.

We started with cooked or canned garbanzos. They get a little crispy on the outside and are very nutty in flavor and they mix very well with all the other ingredients. Roast them alone for about 15 minutes before adding other vegetables.

Next, add potatoes, cut into wedges. Roasted potatoes usually take a bit more salt and we like to also add a some of the more exotic seasonings to them.

Once the potatoes have cooked 10 minutes, add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking 25-30 minutes more. About half-way through, toss all the ingredients together and put back in the oven. At the 30-minute mark, check with a fork to ensure that the potatoes are tender. If everything is cooked, transfer to a serving plate.

We often roast broccoli, onion quarters and one-inch thick cabbage slices drizzled with olive oil, carrot slices, chunks of squash, slices of beets, potatoes, garlic.  Really anything! Onions and cabbage caramelize nicely.

Although this makes a healthy and low-calorie meal by itself, it is also very simple to satisfy your inner carnivore by adding chunks of chicken to roast alongside the veggies. The drippings from the chicken will  enhance the flavors of everything else on the sheet pan.

Our rental has a nice sized oven but some of our friends aren’t so lucky. If you don’t have an oven, small servings should turn out great if you roast them in a toaster oven.

If it is just Jackie and me, we usually mix up the whole works and put it in a large mixing bowl with two forks, and snarf it up in front of the TV while watching Breaking Bad reruns. Sometimes Jackie overrides my preferences and throws in a Studio Ghibli anime. Either way, with a glass of cabernet (or two), we have a nice, light meal for a quiet evening at home.