I’m always curious about what other people eat. When I meet the all-too-common New Yorker who says “I don’t cook,” I always ask what he does for meals, out of a genuine (if naive) curiosity (because I know all the reasons that cooking can be a pain when life is busy). When I meet people who do cook, I plaster them with questions too. Do they cook every night? On Sundays for the week? How do they deal with grocery shopping and planning? Maybe this is market research, but mostly I’m just annoyingly inquisitive.
(If you’re a New Yorker who doesn’t cook but wants to, you probably need a coach.)
My questions have often led me to new insights about what you guys, my audience, want. I’ve also received recommendations for recipes I never would have thought of. Like when a friend pulled her copy of Plenty from the bookshelf one afternoon when we were over and turned it to Ottolenghi’s recipe for roasted vegetables with vinaigrette, and I had my own moment of cooking confusion. “What do you serve them with?” I asked. Maybe some quinoa, she replied, but maybe not. Wondering if roasted vegetables alone could comprise dinner, I went home and made the recipe for Alex and me. We did pile our veggies on top of quinoa, but it turned out we didn’t have to. These vegetables pack both flavor and substance, and they’re really tasty.
The real epiphany in this recipe is dressing roasted vegetables after they come out of the oven. You may question dressing something that already has been tossed with olive oil, but the way the vinaigrette soaks into the hot fennel, onions, sweet potatoes, and carrots will make you forget your questions. That addition of flavor (and calories) is also what bumps this up from some side dish to the status of a vegetarian main.
This time, when I made the recipe, I changed the flavors in the vinaigrette from the original. I drizzle in some pomegranate molasses, a Middle Eastern pantry staple not seen in my cooking since I made muhammara, to add sweetness and tang to the dressing. If you’re interested in Middle Eastern cuisine, it’s worth seeking out a bottle of the stuff. Otherwise, simply omit the pomegranate molasses and use a bit more lemon juice or vinegar.
This sponsored post is part of an ongoing collaboration with Sargento, called Flavor Journey. Throughout the year, with the support of Sargento, I’m exploring Middle Eastern cuisine–at home, in Brooklyn, at cooking classes, and wherever the flavors may take me. You can see the whole series here. Sponsored posts let me do some of my best work on this blog, and I only ever work with brands whose values and products mesh with the content I love to produce for you. Here’s my affiliate disclosure.
Roasted Middle Eastern Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 6 wedges each
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into thirds, then cut into 4 wedges each
2 red onions, trimmed and cut into 6 wedges each
2 sweet potatoes, halved horizontally, then cut into 6 wedges each (you can either peel or not peel)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
Handful cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
For the vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon pomegranate molasses
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for each clean=up.
Mix fennel, carrots, red onions, and sweet potato in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil and then add salt and thyme. Spread out in a large roasting pan–it’s fine if the veggies overlap a bit. Place the garlic head halves on the pan and rub with oil. Roast for 40 minutes, until the bottom sides of the veggies are quite brown.
When the vegetables are tender, add the tomatoes to the pan and roast for 12 more minutes. When you add the tomatoes, feel free to remove any veggies that look really done–the garlic, especially, may be golden enough by now.
While the veggies finish cooking, get out a large bowl. In it, whisk the lemon juice with the mustard, then drizzle in the olive oil, whisking all the while so the dressing emulsifies. Add the honey and pomegranate molasses, then sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Taste for seasonings, adding more molasses for tanginess, honey for sweetness, or salt to add flavor and tame the zing.
Remove the vegetables from the oven and transfer to the bowl. Toss with the dressing, and taste again for seasoning. Serve the vegetables warm or at room temperature, with an egg or some quinoa.