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?
*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?
*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…
*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.
*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?
*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.
–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.
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.
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
1 28-oz. can chunky tomato sauce (or 1 28 0z-can tomato sauce + 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes)
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).