One simple recipe and a little cooking savvy create healthy sides for your holiday table
With the holidays just around the corner, this seems like an appropriate time to share a few seasonal recipes from the Ridgeview kitchen. Of all the fantastic dishes patients, staff and visitors enjoy on the Waconia campus, I’m going to share how to turn plain vegetables into something special. Yes, it’s possible—and a great way to offer a few healthy choices with your holiday meal.
Ridgeview Chef Aaron Kneeland explained that there’s really no secret or special recipe to share, but advised that one seasoning mix and the right cooking technique make all the difference. He says that following a few simple roasting tips will make a tasty vegetable every time.
Chef Kneeland’s recommended Tri-mix seasoning: 1 T. coarse/flaky kosher salt (not table salt), 1 T. granulated garlic (not garlic salt or garlic powder), ½ T. black pepper
Rules for Roasting Vegetables:
- For any roasting, use high temperatures (400 degrees for a home oven). All vegetables/starches give off liquid which will make them steam, not roast. High heat helps evaporate the liquid quickly.
Home ovens tend to retain more heat and moisture than professional ovens—because of the way they’re made—making them less efficient for roasting and more challenging for caramelization to occur. To help reduce some of the moisture, Kneeland recommends placing a spoon in the oven door to barely crack it open. This allows some of the moisture to vent while not cooling the oven drastically.
- Toss your vegetable in canola oil and seasoning before cooking. The fat in the oil is needed for roasting, but do not use olive oil as it is a finishing oil and not suited for high temperatures. It is not necessary to grease or spray the pan with oil. Definitely do not use parchment or wax paper, as it will trap more water and create steam.
- Give your vegetables as much space as possible–meaning, spread them out. They should be in a single layer. Use more pans than you think you need. This allows for more of the moisture to evaporate and more caramelization to occur.
- The desired end-result for roasted vegetables/starches is for them to hold their shape, but still be tender.
- The goal is to have a nice mix of caramelization, meaning they’re not going to be a perfectly even golden brown. Some edges will be darker and other areas will not have started to caramelize at all. If your vegetables are caramelized, but still too crunchy, reduce the oven temp. If they are cooked and tender, but not caramelized, increase the oven temp or make sure they’re not crowded on the pan.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes (12 servings)
- 2.5 lbs., 1-inch cubed sweet potatoes or yams, remove the skin
- 2 T. canola oil
- 1 T. tri-mix seasoning
Toss all ingredients in a large bowl until evenly coated. Pour onto an ungreased sheet pan or shallow-edged roasting pan in a single layer, leaving any excess oil in the bowl. Roast in a 400-degree oven, approx. 35 minutes. Potatoes should hold their shape, but easily be pierced by a knife and be golden to dark-golden brown on the edges.
Roasted Cauliflower (12 servings)
- 2 heads cauliflower, stem removed, broken into approx. 1-inch chunks
- 3 T. canola oil
- 1 ½ T. tri-mix seasoning
Toss all ingredients in a large bowl until evenly coated. Pour onto an ungreased sheet pan or shallow-edged roasting pan in a single layer, leaving any excess oil in the bowl. Roast in a 400-degree oven, approx. 20 minutes. Cauliflower should be golden to dark-golden brown on the edges.
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes (10 servings)
- 2.5 lbs. fingerling potatoes
- 2 T. canola oil
- 1 T. tri-mix seasoning
Toss all ingredients in a large bowl until evenly coated. Pour onto an ungreased sheet pan or shallow-edged roasting pan in a single layer, leaving any excess oil in the bowl. Roast in a 400-degree oven, approx. 45 minutes. Potatoes should hold their shape, but easily be pierced by a knife and be golden to dark-golden brown on the edges.
Steamed Green Beans with Garlic
- 1 lb. fresh green beans, stems removed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ T. tri-mix seasoning
Steam for approx. 6 minutes. Beans should maintain a vibrant color, not droop if held between your fingers, and not have a crunch when bitten. While steaming, gently heat olive oil and sauté garlic over med-low heat. When beans are finished steaming and garlic is tender, toss together with tri-mix seasoning.
Steamed Broccoli (8 ̶ ½ cup servings)
- 1 lb. broccoli florettes
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 T. tri mix seasoning
Steam for approx. 4 minutes. After steaming, broccoli should maintain a vibrant color, not be mushy, yet maintain a tender (not crunchy) bite. Toss gently with olive oil and tri-mix seasoning.
There you have it. I expect you wouldn’t need any new recipes for homemade stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie. Those are already well-established favorites in many family traditions, but I'm hoping one of these vegetable alternatives might find its way onto your holiday table this year.
Here’s wishing you and your family a happy holiday season from all the staff at Ridgeview.