When you cook for two as we do, it’s challenging to find creative ways to use leftovers. I look for ways to reuse, rather than reheat, leftovers. One night’s grilled steak becomes the next day’s steak salad.
Roasted vegetables can easily do double duty. They’re a beautiful side dish to accompany a pan-sautéd chicken breast or grilled pork tenderloin. They’re wonderful additions to pasta, and they make fantastic pizza toppings. The beauty is that you can roast the vegetables a day or two in advance, and use them in pasta or on pizza later in the week.
Here’s a basic recipe for roasted vegetables (actually, it’s more of a suggestion than a set-in-stone recipe) with a couple of ways to use them:
roasted seasonal vegetables
Use any combination of these vegetables, as available seasonally or to your taste. Cut harder vegetables like winter squash and carrots into smaller pieces than softer veggies like onion or zucchini. Amounts don’t really matter; use as much as you’d like, and choose your pan to accommodate all the veggies in a single layer. If using mushrooms, add them about halfway into the cooking time.
butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
red or sweet yellow onion, halved horizontally, and then each half cut into 8 wedges
red or green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and halved
whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prep the vegetables and put them into a large bowl; add several glugs of good olive oil, a generous grind of pepper and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Line a rimmed baking sheet (a half-sheet pan works well) with foil to make cleanup easy. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on baking sheet; use two if needed. Roast vegetables for about 30 minutes, stirring and rotating pan about halfway through (add mushrooms at that point, if you’re using them). To test for doneness, pierce one of the harder vegetables (like a winter squash) with the tip of a paring knife; if it goes in easily, then the vegetables are done. Remove from oven, and serve as a side dish to grilled or roasted meat or fish, or reserve, refrigerated for later use in pizza or pasta.
pizza with roasted vegetables
1/2 recipe homemade pizza dough (or use refrigerated pizza dough, or a prepared pizza crust)
3 or 4 cups roasted vegetables
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
coarse salt, freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees; place a pizza stone on the middle oven shelf if you have one. Roll pizza dough into a circle. When oven is hot, sprinkle pizza stone with a handful of cornmeal and place the dough onto the stone; alternately, lightly grease a pizza pan or round baking sheet and press dough into the pan. Bake for about 7 minutes, until crust begins to turn a pale golden color. Remove from oven. Top with shredded mozzarella, then with vegetables. Put spoonfuls of ricotta over the veggies; sprinkle with fresh pepper and coarse salt and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Return pizza to oven; bake about 10 to 12 minutes until veggies are thoroughly warm, mozzarella is melted and ricotta begins to brown a bit.
pasta with roasted vegetables
6 cups roasted vegetables
4 slices bacon, diced (optional)
8 ounces dried pasta—consider orecchiette, farfalle or penne
1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
In a skillet, pan-fry the bacon; remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 1 Tbsp. of bacon drippings; add vegetables, lower heat and cover to warm while you make the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. When al dente, drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Return pasta to pot; add vegetables, bacon and ricotta; season with salt and pepper. Add pasta water as needed to create a sauce. Serve, topped with freshly grated Parmesan.