Roasted Root Vegetables with Meyer Lemon

by brookefiore

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 This time of year I tend to get a little restless. Not because I’m not busy enough and not because I haven’t stretched out my limbs in awhile, but because I haven’t stepped outside. Not the kind of stepping that one does to get the mail, or the kind that one does to plug in the Christmas lights, but the kind where you walk through the woods just because you can.

Not because you need the exercise (although that’s a perk), and not because you are traveling towards a destination. The kind of stepping where each foot placement is purposeful and you find yourself with an overwhelming sense of alertness and tranquility for everything around you. Everything that can look like nothing to someone who doesn’t understand.

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I’m not a tree-hugger by any means, and up until yesterday I’d never even made my own granola (ironic I realize). I just know where to find peace and my peace happens to be stepping over moss covered rocks and grounds saturated by leaves and dirt.

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The tail end of fall and at the heels of winter just so happens to be my favorite time for venturing, beneath barren branches. For one thing, the ability to veer off trails proves much easier without so much snagging on thorns and bushes. The deer are easier to spot even if they are still just a blur of white and beige, heard and gone as quickly as they came into sight. And the patches of emerging life in the form of moss and ferns look more like emeralds than anything else.

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The way the ancient roots snarl along the trails like angry limbs serves as inspiration for dinner. Roasted root vegetables. The starring guest – meyer lemons. If you have not been so fortunate as to taste this unique mix of a sweet orange, tart lemon, and a bouquet of flowers, you should drop whatever you are doing and find your way to the nearest produce section. In the dimmest of days these small spheres of sunshine find their way onto grocery store displays. Their rind is thin and their juice is sweet, tart, and floral all rolled into one. They are the perfect accompaniment to sweet and tender carrots, parsnips, and turnips (or rutabagas if you so choose). A bit of rosemary, garlic, cumin, and olive oil brings everything together and provides warmth after an afternoon spent traipsing through the woods.

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Tips for choosing Meyer lemons:

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Look for a deep gold color – a pale yellow color will yield a less sweet fruit.

Use them as you would regular lemons – a versatile addition to most recipes that brings a sweeter, more floral aroma to the table.

Choose those that feel a bit heavy for their size – with a firm but forgiving outer surface.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Meyer Lemon

Serves 4 to 6

1 lb carrots, washed and peeled. Cut crosswise into 3 inch sections and then cut in half lengthwise, about 1/2 inch thick

1 lb parnsips, peeled, trimmed and cut crosswise into 3 inch sections and then cut in half lengthwise, about 1/2 inch thick, cores removed

1 lb medium purple top turnips (2 or 3) or 1 large rutabaga, scrubbed, peeled, trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch thick wedges – turnips or rutabagas will cook slightly faster than parsnips and carrots, hence the larger cut.

1 Meyer lemon, top and bottom removed, cut lengthwise in half and then sliced crosswise into 1/8 inch thick slices, seeds removed.

1/4 cup olive oil

1 TBSP chopped, fresh rosemary

2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum  foil.

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat vegetables. Spread in an even layer on to the baking sheet and roast, turning vegetables once during baking. Roast for 35-45 minutes, season to taste salt and pepper and serve.

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