April Bloomfield’s Roasted Vegetable’s
- 2 Large fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed, fronds reserved, and stalks discarded
- 2 Small skin-on red onions, roots trimmed but left intact, halved lengthwise
- 4 Medium parsnips, peeled, topped and tailed
- 2 Medium carrots, peeled, topped and tailed
- 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
- Maldon Salt or another flaky sea salt
- 10 or so skin-on garlic cloves
- Several thyme sprigs (optional)
- Sage Pesto (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450°
- Trim the root end of the fennel, just to remove any brown oxidized bits, but keep the ends intact. Halve the fennel bulbs lengthwise. Ideally your parsnips and carrots will be about the same size. If the top portion of any of them is much thicker than the others, lop off this portion and halve it lengthwise.
- Pour the oil in a flameproof heavy-bottomed roasting pan, shallow baking dish, or cast-iron pan large enough to hold all the vegetables comfortably. Set it over a high heat until the oil is nice and hot—it should ripple, crackle, and smoke a little.
- Carefully add the vegetables, cut the sides down for the onion and fennel, and let them sizzle away. Turn your pan every now and then if you feel that one spot’s not getting hot, and peek underneath the vegetables to make sure things are looking happy. As they brown, you’ll smell the sweetness as the heat brings out the vegetables’ sugars. If you see too much browning too quickly, turn the heat down a bit. When the undersides are a nice golden-brown color, about 10 minutes, turn the vegetables browned sides up, and turn off the heat.
- Sprinkle plenty of salt, about 1 tablespoon, over the vegetables, crushing it between your fingers as you do. Don’t stir, because you don’t want the vegetables to lose the salt. Scatter the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs around the pan and pop it into the oven.
- The next part is a bit of a balancing act. If after 15 minutes or so in the oven, you see really nice color, but the insides are still fairly firm, turn down the heat to 350°F. Continue to cook the vegetables, turning them over now and then and being delicate with the fennel and onions so they don’t fall apart, just until you can slide a knife into the vegetables without resistance, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Stack the vegetables nicely on a serving plate. I like to set an onion half and a few fennel halves on the plate first, then start arranging the carrots and parsnips on top so they face this way and that. Add the rest of the vegetables, including the garlic cloves, and spoon on some of the sweet fat left in the pan. Add a little more salt, but only if you fancy. I like mine not very highly seasoned. Roughly chop a handful of the reserved fennel fronds and sprinkle over the top. If you’re using the sage pesto, add some of it in dollops here and there.