Sometimes you just have to elevate certain foods, give it a little pizzazz and make it sexy. let’s face it, vegetables are not exactly deal sealers especially with kids, so a little extra thought sometimes helps. Take tonight’s dinner scene for example.
Me: “Would anyone like some veggies?”
Quinn: Blank stare. Picks nose.
Me: “They’re roasted”
Miranda: Looks at me with a raised eyebrow, “Roasted?” Like I had invented some new word.
Quinn: Looks at his sister for some advice.
Me: “They’re roasted vegetables with maple syrup drizzled all over them”
Miranda: “Maple syrup! Give me some!”
Quinn: “Yayyyy, I want some veggies”
This unscheduled food experiment was a success and they loved them. To be fair, it’s not just some glorious root vegetables dowsed in sweet maple syrup. In fact they don’t taste much like syrup at all, the sweetness comes mainly from the roasting and all of those crunchy charred bites. The maple syrup is mixed with balsamic vinegar and reduced to a mild sweet and savory sauce. The fact that the veggies are roasted also makes it a huge flavor bonus. I have a friend who recently commented that her daughter had asked for leftover roasted cauliflower in her school lunch box…score!
Another surprising thing was that I almost didn’t have any carrots left for this recipe. The kids found them in the refrigerator yesterday and thought it was hilarious to walk around eating them Peter Rabbit style, because they still had their green tops on them! One more kid friendly veggie tip, I’ve noticed if I let them prepare and cut the vegetables then it becomes more interesting for them to eat. Sometimes it doesn’t even make it to the plate!
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, chopped into 1 inch squares
2 red onions, sliced thickly
1/2 pound rutabaga's, chopped into 1 inch squares
1 1/2 pounds parsnips, sliced thinly and diagonally
1/3 cup olive oil/canola oil blend
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp ground black grind pepper
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 1/2 Tbsp dry Herb De Provence
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine all of the vegetables. Add the oil, salt, pepper, herbs and rosemary and toss to coat well.
Place the vegetables on a large roasting pan or two baking sheets, making sure they are all level and not on top of one another.
Place in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes, checking that the point of a sharp knife spears the vegetables easily.
When the vegetables are cooking in the oven, place the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar in a pan and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer slowly until it has reduced by about half and is nice and thick.
Once the vegetables are ready, lightly drizzle some of the syrup over them and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
Serve warm or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Only add as much syrup as you desire, keeping any leftovers in the fridge. If the syrup gets hard like a caramel and is too stiff to pour, gently warm it in the microwave or stove top for about one minute.
It's a good idea to gently move the vegetables around on the pan about half way through cooking to ensure even cooking.
This recipe makes a lot and can easily be halved, keeping the syrup reduction for a later use.