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Roasted vegetable medley packed with flavor and nutrition

Root vegetables of carrots, parsnips and turnips are presented with butternut squash.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 3
Apple cider is reduced with white vinegar and sugar to make a glaze.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 3
Root vegetables of carrots, parsnips and turnips are roasted with butternut squash and glazed with reduced apple cider.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor3 / 3

A few summers ago, instead of planting our own garden, we joined a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and began receiving weekly boxes of our "share" in the harvest, from June through October. That fall, we received a steady abundance of root vegetables and frantically began searching for new recipes to help us get through our supply.

I discovered this week's Roasted Root Vegetables in Cider Glaze in an issue of Southern Living magazine, and this side dish was so good that Tony and I found ourselves craving it on a regular basis. The recipe hails from Chef Matthew Wendell, who served it to President George W. Bush and his family when they lived in the White House. In the article, Jenna Bush Hager, the president's daughter, is quoted saying that these roasted root vegetables have "become a staple at our Thanksgiving because of the simplicity and purity of the dish."

Her words perfectly sum up this side dish, which is simple in both its rustic nature and ease of preparation, with a purity that comes from the perfect combination of fall flavors. This dish showcases some of fall's best root vegetables, carrots, turnips and parsnips, and pairs them with the wonderful, sweet nuttiness of butternut squash.

This vegetable medley packs a punch in both flavor and nutrition, as these root veggies are filled with vitamins like A, B6, C and K, and are also a great source for vital minerals and nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate, beta-carotene and dietary fiber.

All of the vegetables are peeled before being cut into similarly-sized pieces, about one to two inches, which helps ensure that they roast evenly. A good-quality vegetable peeler is a must for this task, so be sure to add one to your kitchen inventory if you don't already have one.

For even more autumnal flavor, the vegetables are tossed with fresh thyme and rosemary, as well as extra virgin olive oil, and then roasted for about 40 minutes, until browned and tender. Roasting vegetables will bring out their natural sugars, thus enhancing the overall flavor and texture of each vegetable.

The key to this dish's appeal is the cider glaze, which is prepared on the stovetop as the vegetables roast. A simple combination of apple cider, white vinegar and sugar, this glaze begins as 32 ounces of liquid which is then reduced over 30 minutes to about ⅓ cup, resulting in a dark, flavorful glaze. Once roasted, the vegetables are tossed with the glaze and then dusted with a sprinkling of fresh parsley before serving.

I love to make a large batch and use the leftovers to make a salad with chopped pistachios or walnuts, goat cheese and a simple dressing of cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. This dish would be an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, or even just a Sunday dinner in autumn.

Roasted Root Vegetables in Cider Glaze

Lightly adapted from Chef Matthew Wendell's recipe featured in Southern Living magazine

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds parsnips, peeled and chopped

1.5 pounds medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1.5 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped

1.5 pounds turnips, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil or cooking spray

3 cups apple cider

1 cup white vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chives or cilantro

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the chopped parsnips, carrots, squash and turnips with olive oil until evenly coated. Add the thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Lightly grease two baking sheets with vegetable oil or cooking spray, and evenly arrange the vegetables in a single layer on each tray.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender and browned, stirring each tray after 20 minutes and rotating their position in the oven.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over high heat, whisk the apple cider, white vinegar and sugar together until combined, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to ⅓ cup, about 30 minutes.

Transfer roasted vegetables to a large serving bowl and toss with the apple cider glaze. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 5 days; reheat or enjoy at room temperature.

"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 13-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello//thelostitalian.areavoices.com.

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