What I call a rimmed baking sheet, also known as a half sheet pan, is very useful kitchen tool. Intended for cakes, it does a fine job of holding cake batter, but my favorite utilization of the rimmed baking sheet is roasting vegetables.
Soon, farmers markets throughout the area will be brimming with a wide variety of vegetables. Tossed together or displayed in rows separated by type and color, roasted vegetables still hot from the oven drizzled with vinaigrette will absorb the flavors of the dressing. Delicious hot, room temperature and cold, roasted vegetables can be used as a side dish on their own, or can be tossed with pasta or greens.
When roasting vegetables, select varieties of similar texture or consistency and cut them into roughly the same size so that they will cook at the same rate. Pure grade olive oil is fine for high heat roasting, save the good quality extra virgin olive oil for the dressing.
Try this unusual vegetal combination alongside fish, chicken or pork; any leftovers are great with pasta:
Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel with Green Olive Dressing
1 Head of cauliflower, cored & cut into bite-sized florets
1 Fennel bulb, cored & cut into cubes, tough outer leaves and leafy fronds discarded.
About 3 Tablespoons olive oil (pure grade)
Salt & pepper
Zest & juice of 1 lemon*
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
About 10 capers, chopped
4-5 Green olives, pitted and chopped (Picholine, Sicilian or other brine-cured variety)
¼ cup of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Cut the cauliflower and fennel approximately the same size, about 1 ½ - 2 inches, and toss with pure olive oil, salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the vegetables in a 400 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes, tossing about halfway through the cooking process.
While the vegetables are roasting, zest and juice the lemon into a large serving bowl. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil, add chopped garlic, capers, olives and parsley. When cauliflower and fennel is lightly browned and cooked through, toss with dressing. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.
* When using the zest of lemons, try to find organic lemons and wash well.