Roasted Finger Food: Carrots, Okra

I love roasting. The flavors and textures that you can coax out of vegetables are unsurpassed by any other at-home method, in my opinion. And it’s so easy! You preheat the oven, get all your goods ready, then throw them in and forget about them. In the spirit of the matrimony between oven and vegetable, here are a couple of recipes:

Something old: Especially in fall and winter, I like to roast carrots until they’re sweet enough to be candy, with a crispy, caramelized outside and a soft, perfectly cooked center. One version of that is roasted carrots with honey, orange & rosemary:
2 lbs. carrots (the smaller the better, and see that they are all a similar size)
1/4 cup. olive oil
1 tbsp. honey (or maple syrup)
1 tbsp. orange juice
1-2 dashes. soy sauce
1 tsp. dried rosemary
salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°. Mix the olive oil, honey, oj, soy sauce and rosemary, then set it aside.

Rinse off your carrots if they are pretty dirty, otherwise, just pass them over a few times with a vegetable peeler (you could also roast them without peeling, just give them a more thorough cleaning).
Lay them in a sheet pan or baking dish, giving each carrot some personal space, so that they are all touching the bottom (this will aid in the caramelization). Pour the honey-orange liquid over the carrots, not worrying if each carrot is perfectly coated. Cover the pan or dish tightly with aluminum foil and stick it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil, sprinkle the carrots with salt and pepper, and return them to the oven. When 15 minutes have passed, take the carrots out and rotate them so that the top sides can brown. Bake them for another 15 minutes and they should look like this:
 The big guys should stay in longer, clearly.

Something new: Okra, on the other hand, has always intimidated me. I had never attempted to cook okra, only having it at restaurants, and only if I ever ordered gumbo or a stew. For my introduction to okra, I thought I’d go as bare bones as possible, and see what these pods were all about.

Roasted okra:

2 lbs. okra (as with the carrots, try to find smaller ones that are all relatively the same size)
2 tbsps. olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
That’s it.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Rinse the okra thoroughly in cold water and dry them with a towel. Cut the tops and bottoms off and toss them into a large bowl.
Pour olive oil over the okra and toss until they are lightly coated. Then add the salt and pepper, and toss again. Arrange the okra on a large sheet pan, giving them a little space. Roast for 15 minutes, rotating once after 8 minutes to brown both sides.

with pan-fried shiitake mushrooms


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