Help me. I can't stop roasting vegetables. There is just no better way to cook most of them, as far as I'm concerned. Here are three stupidly delicious recipes for some roasted vegetables.
Anyone who claims that they don't like cooked carrots (both of my brothers included) clearly hasn't had them this way. Those people are thinking of wet-cooked carrots, and that's just wrong. I mean, carrots in a stew is one thing, but the steamed baby carrots I was fed a child had a slimy mouthfeel and a mushy, mealy texture. These, however, are a different experience entirely. The recipe is simple, as it should be for such a sweet root vegetable. Peel a pound of carrots, and cut them into ~2'x3/4'x3/4' sticks (precision knife work would take away some of the rustic appeal of this dish, so don't bother getting out the ruler). In a bowl or whatever, toss the carrot sticks with ~2T melted butter, ~1T salt, and ~2t black pepper. On a tinfoil-lined baking sheet, roast at 400˚ for ~45 minutes, or until deeply brown and even black in places. The pieces should be more than fork-tender, although a bit of crispness is welcome in the blackened spots, which will inexorably occur if your oven, like mine, has hot spots.

This is one of the best and most reliable recipes I know. Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes. I can't speak highly enough of it. In fact, as I write this, I have just chosen to reheat some of these little monsters over the multitude of brownies that I have in my fridge.This recipe, like the previous, defies the skeptics. When I offer this dish to someone, the conversation is always the same:
"Oh, no thanks, I don't like Brussels sprouts."
"Well, try these, they will literally astound you with astonishment."
"Phenomenal, Charles. I, President Barack Obama, as your close personal friend, officially name you the Secretary of GREAT (food)!" (Get it? That was the best joke.)
To make these stupefying treasures, simply cut the butt ends off of a pound of washed sprouts (for they are woody and unpleasant) and cut all sprouts in half. some of the outer leaves will fall off in this process, but that's okay. Include them, don't throw them away and certainly don't use any part of a sprout in stock. Put your sprouts in a big ziploc bag and pour in about ~3/4C balsamic vinegar, ~3/4C olive oil, ~1T of salt, and ~1t pepper. Seal the bag and massage it like it was your imaginary girlfriend (it is, after all, Valentine's Day). Do this a bit ahead of time and let the bag sit at room temperature for a bit, so the fluids can invade the caverns within the sprouts. After this has been done, spread the sprouts out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Wash about 1.5C of good seedless grapes, and disperse them throughout the pan with the sprouts. Roast at 400˚ for ~45 minutes (noticing a theme here?).

Roasted potatoes need no introduction. They are straightforward, delicious, and as easy as a Charlie Sheen punchline. My recipe calls for 2# of baby red potatoes, 2T salt, 1T pepper, 1t thyme, 1t paprika... actually, never mind. There are so many damn herbs and spices in here, none of which I actually measured. So here are my rules of thumb.
1) Potatoes always need more salt than you think they do.
2) Since we are, of course, roasting these at 400˚ for ~45 minutes, don't use olive oil. It will burn and turn bitter (we weren't worried about that with the Brussels sprouts because most of that oil was physically kept up inside of the sprouts).
3) Wash your potatoes well. Scrub the heck out of them. Nothing is worse than a gritty potato, except gritty coffee. Notice the theme with all of the worst things ever is that they are gritty. That is not a coincidence. Wash your spuds.
4) Play around! Potatoes and spices are cheap, so make a different recipe every time, and see what you like best.

Well, there you have three blank slates with which you can do whatever you please. Tweak, play, and change whatever you please, but just promise me that you will never ever ever boil a Brussels sprout, even at threat of death. These recipes were more than good enough to accompany me this Valentine's Day, I hope you like them as much as I do.

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