I love roasted root vegetables. I have ever since I lived with my sister/best-friend in Providence and she would fortify us with enormous batches of that earthy, savory, caramelized winter delight. The kitchen chemistry behind roasting eludes me, however, and thus every batch I make is an experiment in faith.
Tonight I cut up most of the remainder of the past weeks’ boxes: roasting turnips, Nantes carrots, Rome Beauty apples, and some beets and garlic cloves that were not of box origin. I tossed them all with olive oil, salt, pepper, and an incredibly luxurious mountain of fresh rosemary and thyme from my last box. I lined a dish with parchment (this new-to-me miracle discovery for roasted roots turns cleaning up from a carpal-tunnel-inducing chore to just barely more than a rinse) and heated the oven to 425.
I put the little fellows into the oven and checked in on them about 45 minutes later. And yes, of course, being small pieces of vegetable matter who had just spent a very long time in a very hot oven, they were cooked. Tender on my fork, and all that. But they weren’t delicious.
But they’re cooked! Take them out!, my suspicious brain cried, perhaps still mourning over the blackened husks of the Week 6 tomatillos I forgetfully abandoned in the oven for a good 3 hours. Have faith! These are merely steamed!, rejoined my stomach, remembering the almost crispy, sugary texture and flavor of those Providence roots.
So back in they went, for another 45 minutes at least – I lose track after a while and the time elapsed is at last labeled simply “a very long time in which I nervously check the oven every ten minutes lest everything burn and be horribly ruined.” In the end I simply took them out – I had lost all perspective. Were they roasted? Were they ruined?
Finally I put a forkful in my mouth. That bite had a piece of apple in it, and the apple was like sin. Like a caramel apple that’s been grilled and seared and melted and oiled and herbed until it has transcended apple, fallen from apple, into some place extraordinary. And from there, from extraordinary, into my waiting mouth.