I love growing and eating fresh fruits and vegetables and as a landscape designer in the Santa Clarita Valley, with a love for nutrition I know a thing or two about eating well. If I don’t grow it in my garden, I buy it from my local farmer’s market. I think that one of the best ways to get tuned into the season is to eat fresh seasonal foods, and since it is getting cold, there is a bounty of healthy choices out there for you.
For example pumpkins – they are not just for Halloween jack-o-lanterns. The are rich in antioxidants – they have vitamins A, C, and E, a host of minerals and both alpha and beta- carotene, which are great for keeping us healthy. They enhance our immune system, help maintain healthy vision, and they are said to help prevent cancer.
If that is not enough, they are both low in calories and fat and high in fiber, and don’t tell me you can’t use a little help at this time of year! Pumpkin is pretty sweet on it’s own, but you can add an extra punch by flavoring it with a little cinnamon.
Now pumpkins aren’t the only healthy delicious vegetable you’ll find these days. What about parsnips? Parsnips are related to carrots, but they are actually a little sweeter than carrots. They are a creamy white color, have lots of fiber (which helps lower your cholesterol) have vitamin C and quite a few of the vitamin B complex like folic acid, B-6, and thiamin. They also have vitamin E, and quite a few minerals including calcium, iron, and potassium.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well it is almost Thanksgiving and I want you to start thinking about perhaps growing some plants next year that you can harvest and use in your Thanksgiving meal and I’m going to share with you the recipe for my very favorite Thanksgiving Dish. Vegetable Pan Roast – I originally found this in Food and Wine Magazine years ago, and have been making it ever since. I’ve changed it a little, but not much. Enjoy!
Vegetable Pan Roast (8 Servings)
1/3 cup plus 2 T olive oil
16 small to medium parsnips (about 1 ½ pounds peeled)
2 large orange sweet potatoes (1 ½ pounds), peeled and cut lengthwise into 4 wedges
2 large red onions (1 ½ pounds) peeled and each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges with root ends intact
1 large eggplant (1 pound) trimmed and quartered, then each piece halved crosswise
2 large red bell peppers
2 large yellow bell peppers
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons dry red wine (you can use white – or even balsamic) but I drink red so….
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Pour 1/3 cup of the olive oil into a very large, wide roasting pan (or divide the oil between two smaller roasting pans). Add the parsnips, sweet potatoes and onions and turn to coat them evenly with the oil; season with salt and black pepper. Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 1 hour, until nicely browned and almost tender. Remove the pan from the oven and increase the temperature to 450.
2. Using a metal spatula, push the cooked vegetables to the side and add the eggplant, bell peppers, and the remaining 2 T oil. Turn the eggplant and bell peppers in the oil to coat; season with salt and black pepper. Scatter the rosemary and thyme sprigs in the pan and roast for about 40 minutes until the peppers are blistered and browned and the other vegetables are tender. (The recipe can be made to this point up to 1 day ahead. Let the vegetables cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. Return to room temperature before proceeding).
3. Preheat the oven to 350. Drizzle the vegetables with the wine, cover with foil and bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes, until hot. Increase the temperature to 450. Uncover the vegetables and roast for about 15 minutes longer, until the juices in the pan have browned and glazed the vegetables. Season the vegetables with salt and black pepper, arrange on a platter and serve.