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Make the roast of the winter


Redmond Cabot

‘Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold’

A lot of people nowadays are echoing Yeats’ ‘The centre cannot hold’. Swift change sweeps through political systems, and populist policies can quickly become the next big thing. And we get this here in food circles too. The ‘Next Big Thing’, the new ‘superfood’, the next celebrity chef.
Our grannies, granddads, mums and dads have been cooking for centuries with fresh, natural foods for hungry stomachs around the family table. Maybe one day we will all end up eating prepared nutrient-and-protein tablets, and I’ll eat my hat, but until that day comes I’m into plain old-fashioned cooking. Use fresh, natural ingredients, use local where possible, and eat a bit of everything in moderation, and plenty of veg.
Here is one of my all-time favourite winter dishes – nothing to change the world, but reflecting the natural world of our winter wonders around us.

Red’s winter roasted veg
I know you may read ‘roast winter veggies’ and say ‘Oh, how boring’ or ‘How unoriginal, done already’. True, but part of my job is to inspire you to enjoy your foods. And that begins at a very simple level. Nothing too fancy here, but if you cannot enjoy the basics how will you ever appreciate the rarities of life?
I tend to add a dash of balsamic the last third of cooking; it adds a tasty glaze to the dish. All you need for this dish is washed and cut veggies, some oil to splash over the veg, and whatever flavour you like to add.
Roasted garlic marries with warming and medicinal rosemary to interact with sweetness of roast veg. You might like to try more exotic versions with ingredients such as squash, red onion, butter bean, fennel, leek and cumin, but this week it’s simple pleasures for me!

What you need

  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 medium turnip
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 medium white onion
  • 4 spring onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 big tbsp rosemary needles
  • Good glugs of rapeseed oil
  • Seasoning

What you do
Wash and prepare all your veg. Break your entire clove of garlic into individual bulbs by pressing the heel of your hand hard down on the top of the bulb till all the bulbs break off. Squash them a bit by hand ’til the skin breaks but otherwise leave skin on, you remove it when eating from the plate.
Get your chopped veg sizes correct here, no point adding spring onion in at the same time as the turnip cubes – the spring onion will simply crisp and burn up. You’ll have to add that later throughout the process.
Place your large and larger cooking veg pieces in your roasting dish/tin first, heavily drizzle in oil, season and stir well. Place in a preheated hot oven (190c) for 35 minutes. Add the smaller pieces as you go through cooking time. Add rosemary and stir it in well with only 15 minutes to go (if you cook it full time 35 minutes it too will blacken and be wasted).
Plate up, served with sprigs of fresh herbs on top, and enjoy!

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.

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