Always Roast as Many Vegetables as You Can

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Public Domain. MaxPixel – Parmesan roasted cauliflower

Kept in the fridge, they're a secret weapon for fast gourmet meals.

Sometimes I get overly enthusiastic at the grocery store and end up buying more vegetables than can fit in my fridge. When my weekly CSA share shows up a couple days later, I've got even more on my hands. Don't get me wrong, this is a good problem to have, but it can result in some trouble when trying to cram everything into the fridge and use it all up before it goes bad.

I've written in the past about the importance of washing, drying, and storing greens as soon as they come in the door, as this makes them easier to use on a whim. But today I'd like to talk about another strategy I've been using recently to help reduce storage space, while also improving usability.

This is roasting and/or grilling en masse. I take a large quantity of sturdy vegetables, such as eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus, and wash and trim them. I brush generously with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then cook them in a hot oven (425F) or on a hot grill, turning occasionally until soft, crispy on the edges, or caramelized – whatever texture I'm going for.

meal prepping

© K Martinko – A pan of asparagus, ready to roast for dinner and leftovers

Once the vegetables have cooled, I store them in large glass jars in the fridge, where they become a fabulous prepped ingredient for packed lunches or dinner menu items. Some of the ways in which I like to serve these vegetables are:

– Warm off the grill with a yogurt-mint-cumin sauce drizzled over top

– Chopped and mixed with a light tomato broth for a chilled summer soup

– Pureed and turned into a cream of vegetable soup (this is especially delicious with roasted red peppers)

– Made into a salad with feta, basil, and cherry tomatoes (my all-time fave recipe is this one from Fine Cooking)

– Mixed with canned black beans and shredded cheese for a quick quesadilla filling

– Turned into a ratatouille (with garlic and herbs) and served over polenta

– Added to a simple tomato sauce to make a hearty pasta dinner

– Atop cooked, cooled grains (barley, quinoa, brown rice) and/or lentils, garnished with feta, nuts, seeds, and sprouts to make a delicious grain bowl for lunch

– Sautéed in a pan and topped with an egg, or stirred into a frittata, or folded into an omelet

– Spread a thin pizza crust with pesto and top with roasted vegetables, sliced olives, and feta

– Atop crackers or baguette slices spread with boursin or cream cheese for an impromptu hors-d'oeuvre