Pan-Roasted Root Veggies & Butternut Squash with Tangy Caper Dressing

…with a tip of the chef’s hat to Yotam Ottolenghi!

Sandra here! I pulled another “McGyver in the kitchen” the other night…

Once again, pondering what I could create for dinner without a trip to the store, I found the following in my fridge and pantry: a large butternut squash, 2 white sweet potatoes, 5 large parsnips, 5 large carrots, 1 red onion, 1 Vidalia onion, 8 (or so) Campari tomatoes, and a large head of garlic, along with some tired-looking sprigs of what used to be fresh thyme.

These were all items that would roast nicely and even caramelize in the oven for a simple, elegant meal. I decided to serve the veggies with rice, so put a pot of brown rice on to steam while dinner was being made.

For the meal, I heated my oven to 375F while I washed and prepped my produce. I cut the butternut squash in half, seeded it, and rubbed olive oil on all sides before placing it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Since the squash would take the longest to roast, I popped it in as soon as the oven was preheated and set the timer for 30 minutes.

While the squash was in the oven, I cut the white sweet potatoes (skin on) into about 6 pieces each; the parsnips and carrots were peeled & cut into sticks about 3″ x 1″ each; I cut the ends off the onions, removed the skin and cut them into about 8 equal pieces each; the fairly small tomatoes were each cut in half; finally, I cut the garlic bulb in half crosswise, leaving the cloves in place as much as possible.

I placed all these veggies on another parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzled olive oil over them, added Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, then gently tossed them all together. I added my rather tired-looking sprigs of “fresh” thyme to the top of the vegetables and they were ready to roast.

By this time, the 30-minute timer for the butternut squash was going off and I popped the second tray in the oven, resetting the timer for 15 minutes in order to check the squash. (I don’t like soft vegetables and, unlike the other tray of roasting (mostly root) vegetables, squash gets mushy if overcooked.

While the second tray of veggies was roasting, I mixed up a little dressing to drizzle over the roasted veggies before serving and toasted some sesame seeds to sprinkle on top.

For the marinade, I combined: 2 T. lemon juice; 2 T. key lime juice (you can substitute lemon juice if you don’t have key limes or bottled key lime juice on hand); 2 T. real maple syrup; 1 1/2 t. dried mustard (Dijon makes a nice substitute) and 3 T. drained capers. Then I added salt and pepper to taste and set the marinade aside. Note: If you don’t have these ingredients on hand, improvise! The salty capers made a nice foil to the sweetness of the maple syrup and beautifully complement the roasted vegetables, but if you don’t have capers, add an extra touch of salt.


The sesame seeds were toasted on the stovetop in a small cast iron pan until just golden–for about 5 minutes. toasted sesame seeds

When the timer for the squash went off, I checked it by inserting a sharp knife. The knife pierced it with a slight give, letting me know it was done but still a bit firm. I removed the squash, let it cool enough to handle it, then peeled and cubed it into 2″ cubes.

Roasted, cubed butternut squash

Once the second tray of veggies had roasted for a full 45 minutes, I checked to make sure they were nicely caramelized. I actually gave them a few more minutes, then removed them from the oven, took the garlic cloves out of their casings, and gently placed all the vegetables into a large attractive serving bowl. I drizzled the marinade and sprinkled the toasted sesame seeds on top. Dinner is served! 


Suggestion: This meal goes nicely with a crisp Chardonnay or your favorite white. Our go-to weeknight Chard is Wente. Okay…so don’t limit yourself to white. Reds go nicely with this meal, too. A hearty Cabernet would be perfect.

Note: Laura and I both have a huge collection of cookbooks. We call them “our friends”–and they are! One of my many favorites is Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. In fact, it might have been a gift from Laura. This meal was strongly inspired by his Roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes with caper vinaigrette.

Thanks, Chef Ottolenghi! Next time I’ll take a picture of the artfully-plated meal so our friends can see the full beauty and color of this meal. (I forgot!)


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