Cooking at home does not have to be complicated or hard. One of the joys of fall cooking is ease of combining simple flavors to create healthy dishes that are flavorful and something you want to eat. Roasting is a great way to create dishes that need little or no extra added fats but are filled with flavor. These four dishes all require the use of the oven, yet are simple and easy to make.
The recipes have no listed ingredients because serving amounts are based on what you want and you get to choose how much flavor to add according to your taste buds. Don’t be afraid to be creative.
1. Olive Oil and Herb Potatoes
For a quick, healthy potato recipe: microwave the potato (or a few) until soft. In the meantime, turn on the oven’s broiler and get out a baking sheet. Once the potato is soft, place it on the baking sheet and smash the potato with a spoon or fork into large chunks, taking care to keep the bottom skin intact (yes, leave the skin, it adds to the taste and is good for you). Once you’ve smashed all your potatoes, sprinkle over with a mixture of fresh chopped herbs of your choice such as chives, thyme, parsley or basil. Drizzle a little olive oil of the top; add sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Pop the pan into the oven and leave until golden brown on top.
2. Spicy Acorn Squash
Speed up the roasting of an acorn squash by microwaving it for ten minutes, turning once, before cutting it in half and preparing it to finish off in the oven. Cover a baking dish with foil, halve the squash and remove the seeds. Place the squash on the baking dish and sprinkle with your choice and to your taste: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice or pumpkin pie spice. Add some brown sugar and pop into the oven to bake until completely soft and the sugar caramelizes a little on the top. Serve as a side or for dessert. This recipe will also work for sweet potatoes.
3. Brussel Sprouts Everyone Will Love
Turn brussel sprout haters into lovers with this simple recipe. Trim the ends of the brussel sprouts and remove any damaged or yellow leaves, then quarter the brussel sprouts down the stem. While cleaning the sprouts, bring a pot of water up to boil on the stove for blanching your sprouts. Add the quartered sprouts to the boiling water and cook for six minutes. Drain in a colander. To finish off, line a baking sheet with foil and turn the oven to broil. Drizzle olive oil over the sprouts, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste and stir to coat (sprouts are actually good to serve like this as well). Place sprouts on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and roast in the oven until leaves are blackening, stirring several times to get all sides. Serve as a yummy appetizer or for a side dish. The roasting brings out the wonderful green nutty flavors and leaves no reminder of the soggy, waterlogged brussel sprouts of our youth.
4. Roasted Chicken Breasts
For wonderfully moist roasted chicken breasts, purchase bone-in, skin on chicken breasts. Make a salty brine using water and salt (water should be as salty as ocean water), add the chicken and allow to brine for at least overnight (a quicker version of this chicken is to just coat with seasoning and cook as is and while good, it’s not as moist). Turn oven on to 450° and place the rack in the middle of the oven (too close to the heat will have the chicken fat popping onto the burner causing smoke). Using a large skillet or high-sided dish that can go from the stove to oven such as a Dutch oven, heat some olive oil on a medium hot burner. Season the chicken breasts with the minimum of salt and pepper, applying generously because the seasoning needs to soak through the chicken. Apply herbs such as thyme, rosemary and sage or spices such as smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powder. Combine and use the flavors of your choice, this is all about you. Place the chicken into the hot oil and cook until browned on each side, end with the skin side down. If you want roasted veggies and have room in the pan, add them in around the chicken after coating with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Good veggie choices are potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic (left whole). Place the pan into the oven and roast the chicken for 15 minutes before turning over, ending with skin on top for crispy skin (to reduce fat, you can always remove skin after cooking but not until then or your chicken will dry out). Cook for another 15 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, your chicken should read 160°. Larger, thicker pieces may need more time. Allow chicken to rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. If veggies need a little more cooking, return them to oven while chicken is resting to continue roasting.
Roasting is great for fall dishes because it brings out wonderful flavors with little effort. These four dishes will have your friends and family thinking your spent hours in the kitchen. Keep the simple ease of it all to yourself or share, it’s up to you. Just don’t miss out on the healthy goodness of bringing fall to your table.