Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me…

by Sarah on November 17, 2010 · 10 comments

I’m pretty sure Elton John and George Michael were food bloggers.I mean, isn’t it obvious that “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” was written about our phobia of the lack of natural sunlight affecting our photography and therefore preventing us from ever wanting to cook at night?

[Source]
Thus, many of us obsessively cook on the weekends or race to beat the sun* in attempts to frantically capture the last strains of daylight so our food looks pretty (or at least prettier). I’m not ashamed to admit that I have carried bowls and pans and cutting boards onto porches or fire escapes at every step in the recipe process in order to get better photos. Crazy? Maybe. But extending the length of mealtime preparations by 200% is a sacrifice I am willing to make for you people. [Never eating a hot meal would be another.]

*Check out the CD of that name by Michael Warren. :)

However, most of us bloggers (I can’t speak for all of us) do have real lives that interfere with our photography. For example, last week I hosted my Book Club* and I was spurred by creative culinary juices. I could have just let the meal go and never blogged about it…

*No books, just food.^
^ And wine.

…but instead I tinkered with the white balance on my camera just enough so that I could have relatively OK photographs. After all, when a meal features this much delicious produce…
…and tastes as great as it ended up tasting…well, how can I let a little artificial, slightly yellow lighting prevent me from sharing?

I don’t know about you, but the winter arrives and I want to eat root vegetables. [Even in Texas where "winter" means you can still get by wearing flip-flops and a 'cold front' indicates a high of 72 degrees.] So when Book Club approached I had roasted roots on the brain.
[Not to be confused with RUSTED Root...."Send Me On My Way," anyone?]

So I roasted. I didn’t quite know where I was going at the time with it…but I figured a bunch of roasted veggies is always the start of something new*…er, I mean, good.

*High School Musical, what?….No? OK. Just me.

If you review in the photo above, I had a bunch of root vegetables—carrots, sweet potato, turnip, and rutabaga (both of those last two are so under-appreciated…goll, how I love me some turnips and rutabagas)–as well as an onion (is that technically a root vegetable?), some Brussels sprouts, and an acorn squash.

First, I cut my Brussels in half and put them in a separate dish (they take less time to cook), sprayed them with cooking spray and sprinkled them with a little salt.Cut my acorn squash in half, saving one half for later…

….and peeling and dicing the other half (Or should we say heart? I mean look at it!) into bite-sized cube-like forms.*

*What a commoner would call “chunks.”
I put those onto a pan with the rest of the veggies that I peeled and diced up so they were all about the same size.
Clearly there was no ruler involved, but I was strangely insistent in putting the most perfectly cube-like pieces onto what I started to refer to as the Master Baking Sheet…
…and putting all the leftover pieces into this pan. [I put 1 cup of each of the veggies on the "master pan" with the master plan^ of using those in the final recipe and the rest for eating in another recipe.*]

^You might ask yourself, “How did she get to be so funny?” And the answer is: we just don’t know.
*Or just with my fingers while waiting for them to cool later. Oops.
There is a lot of peeling (not very appealing*) involved but it is SO worth it in the end.

*Sorry.
Because when you roast these at 425 degrees for 40 minutes (maybe 30…I lost track of time…) they apparently “smell like crack”* while cooking.

*In a good way, my roommate tells me. Not sure that she actually knows what crack smells like. I think this was meant as a compliment?

And although they would taste great on their own, when you take all the veggies out of the oven after about 15 minutes and drizzle them with honey and balsamic vinegar…

….as well as sprinkle them generously with thyme……well they taste like crack, too.*

*Again, not that I know what that tastes like.The Brussels will cook for about 15 minutes, and then about 5-10 more after that, depending on their size.
The other veggies will need about 20-30 more minutes. I remove them when they are just crisp-tender, especially as they will cook more in the final dish.
–Wait, hold up, Sarah.
–Yes?
–I thought you said you didn’t know what you were going to do with them.
–Half-truth, people…because, you see, as I was taking stock of my veggies, I remembered a delicious dish from last winter that I knew I needed to try and recreate.

But for the moment, I just needed to combine…
….and store the veggies overnight.
And try desperately not to eat them all before I could make the final dish.
And what would that dish be? Well, last year, my friend J.W. cooked up a randomly assembled spaghetti sauce in which he threw just about any vegetable he had found at the store. It was the first (and last, until now) time I’d ever eaten a tomato-based sauce with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts featured as prominent ingredients. I was so excited by it that he named it for me.

Thus, “Pember Sauce” was born.

And so, little Smarties, all you need to do for this uniquely interesting,* deceptively delicious Roasted Veggie Spaghetti Sauce is a big ol’ can of tomato sauce…28 oz. to be exact.

*Like its namesake?
[However, if you aren't lucky enough to get a "chunky" kind, I would also obtain some diced tomatoes.]You’ll also need more thyme leaves, rosemary sprigs (you can use dried), and cloves.
Yes, cloves. It’s what really makes this sauce sing. [And if sauce could sing, this one would.]
Pour the tomato sauce into a pot and add about 1 tsp. thyme, 1/2-3/4 tsp. cloves (be light with this at first because cloves can easily overpower a dish), and a few springs of rosemary…I didn’t feel like chopping, so I just threw ‘em in. :)
Add your veggies and cook until everything is warm.
It will smell AMAZING. You will not be able to stop taking bites of it. You will think to yourself, “this is such a strange combination of ingredients and spices and yet…it is magical.”
And magical it will be. So magical that you forget to take a picture of the sauce being served on pasta. But it was. And it was divine.

Roasted Veggie Spaghetti (aka “Pember Sauce”)

1 cup rutabaga
1 cup turnip
1 cup sweet potato
1 cup acorn squash
1 cup sweet onion
[For all of the above, the 1 cup measurement refers to the veggie after it has been peeled and diced into bite-sized chunks.]
1 cup halved Brussels sprouts

Olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
Dried thyme
Balsamic vinegar
Honey

1 28-oz. can chunky tomato sauce (or 1 28 0z-can tomato sauce + 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes)
Ground cloves
Sprigs of fresh rosemary

1. Combine root vegetables and squash onto a baking sheet. Coat with olive oil cooking spray or olive oil, as well as a sprinkling of salt.
2. Coat the Brussels sprouts with olive oil or cooking spray in a separate small pan.
3. Roast all veggies at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
4. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and honey over vegetables. Stir to coat. Sprinkle generously with thyme.
5. Return to oven. Remove Brussels sprouts after about 5-10 more minutes, and the remaining vegetables after about 20-30 minutes. (Take them out when they are tender to the fork.)
6. In a medium pot, heat tomato sauce with 1 tsp. thyme, 1/2-3/4 tsp. ground cloves, and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.
7. Add veggies to tomato sauce and cook through, allowing flavors to meld and veggies to finish cooking down if need be.
8. Serve over the pasta of your choice (or, as always, just eat it alone in a bowl with a nice hunk of bread for dipping).

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jillian @ Reshape Your Life November 17, 2010 at 7:59 am

That looks delicious. I made a similar dish with more zucchini and squash (predictable), but I'll have to try this… I've never had a turnip or rutabaga… So this would be an adventure!

Reply

halley November 17, 2010 at 8:20 am

Holy cow! This looks incredible (like all of your recipes do haha). I came across your awesome blog pretty recently when looking for bloggers in TX. You, your stories, and writing are so charming!!!

Reply

Jacqui November 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm

That looks great and I love the Rusted Roots reference, I was thinking it before I saw that.

Reply

TheHealthyApron November 17, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Fall/winter = comforting root veggies! I adore sweet potatoes and acorn squash! In fact, I'm making stuffed squash for lunch today!

Reply

katecooks November 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

haha, funny because it's true…most of my dinners never make it to the blog simply because i hate the lighting in my photographs. i love weekend shots the best because i can get natural light somewhere other than my desk at work :)

Reply

Lindsay and James Cotter November 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

haha, I thought i was the only one that like rusted roots!!! Send me on my way, heck ya!!!
And send me on my way with that spaghetti dish. YUMMMMMMY!

Reply

Lindsay and James Cotter November 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

haha, I thought i was the only one that like rusted roots!!! Send me on my way, heck ya!!!
And send me on my way with that spaghetti dish. YUMMMMMMY!

Reply

Lindsay and James Cotter November 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

haha, I thought i was the only one that like rusted roots!!! Send me on my way, heck ya!!!
And send me on my way with that spaghetti dish. YUMMMMMMY!

Reply

Lindsay and James Cotter November 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

haha, I thought i was the only one that like rusted roots!!! Send me on my way, heck ya!!!
And send me on my way with that spaghetti dish. YUMMMMMMY!

Reply

Lele November 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm

I think I'd rather have a sauce named after me than an album named after me. Though it's a fairly close call.

Reply

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