Roasted Summer Veggies with Lemon Zest and Fennel – the perfect EASY side to any summer meal. Bonus? They also double up as a modern take on crudités!
I was never the kid who wouldn’t eat her veggies. I’ve always loved broccoli, spinach, corn, mushrooms, zucchini, and pretty much every other vegetable under the sun. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that they were just always a part of mealtime growing up. Every night at 5:30, dinner was on the table and we had an entrée, a vegetable, a starch and most of the time, a salad. From what I can remember, it was never forced upon me –or maybe it never had to be.
I’m trying to coerce Teddy in to having the same love of veggies as I do, and it was going swimmingly until about two months ago when he decided he would only eat cottage cheese, yogurt, pasta and fruit. After many attempts at more kid-friendly versions of vegetables like crispy zucchini, cheesy tater tots and spinach quesadillas to get him eating his veggies again, I’ve come to terms with the fact that for the time being, pouches and smoothies will just have to do the trick.
Since I’ve done away with all the kid-ified vegetables, I thought it was high time to head to the farmer’s market, pick up some veggies I know Teddy would never eat in a million years and treat myself to some grown-up vegetables.
The zucchini flowers, soy beans and locally-harvested oyster mushrooms caught my eye at first, but when it came down to it, all I really wanted were the teeny tiny baby classics – carrots, eggplant and fingerling potatoes.
There’s something about roasting fresh vegetables that takes them from ordinary to extraordinary, but what I love most about it, is it’s EASY. So easy.
I don’t usually do too much in terms of seasoning when it comes to roasting vegetables aside from a little olive oil, salt and pepper, but here, I wanted to give them a little bit of extra pizzaz. In addition to my go-to standards, before roasted I tossed the veggies with ground coriander and a little bit of fennel seed.
After roasting, I tossed the hot vegetables with plenty of lemon zest, and then served them with a super easy lemon and coriander Greek yogurt sauce.
A few notes on roasting. Because all vegetables have different cooking times, it’s best to roast them on separate sheet pans. Since the carrots and fingerling potatoes take similar amounts of time, I roasted them all on one pan, and then the baby eggplants on another. I also like to shake the pan about halfway through the cooking process, just to make sure they cook evenly on all sides.
When it comes to roasting eggplant, there’s this mindset that you must salt it prior to cooking to bring out the innate moisture inside them. I personally don’t feel it’s necessary, but did it anyways on about half of them to see if there was any difference – there wasn’t. If you’re a rule follower, just salt them 10-15 minutes before you toss them with the olive oil and seasoning, if you’re not, throw caution to the wind and skip it.
Now, this is a hard and fast rule when it comes to roasting ALL vegetables, and really, roasted anything in general. Because you want the vegetables to ROAST and not steam, it’s really important you don’t overcrowd the pan – especially when it comes to the eggplant. If all of the veggies are on top of each other, they won’t get that irresistible brown exterior.
Also, instead of just shaking them pan with the eggplant, I actually like to take the eggplant out, and flip each one over to make sure they cook evenly on both sides.
Of course, these are wonderful served straight out of the oven, but I also like them just as much at room temperature. And while they’re the perfect side dish to any meal, they’re also the perfect modern twist on a classic crudité platter.
For more easy veggie recipes, check out these posts:
- 3/4 lb baby eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 tsp salt, divided (plus more to taste)
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 lb. baby farmer's market carrots
- 1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes
- 3/4 tsp. fennel seed
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
- sheet pan
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line halved eggplant up on a rimmed baking sheet, skin-side down. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Add eggplant, carrots and potatoes to a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, remaining salt, fennel and 3/4 teaspoon of ground coriander.
- Spread carrots and fingerling potatoes evenly on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Place eggplant on another baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Pull the carrots and potatoes out, and shake the pan to make sure the veggies cook evenly. Flip each of the eggplant over. Place back in the oven and roast until carrots are cooked, but still have a bite to them and potatoes are cooked, anther 10-15 minutes. Cook the eggplant until it's super soft and golden brown, another 5-10 minutes.
- While the veggies finish cooking, whisk Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and remaining coriander together. Add a teaspoon or two of water to get it to a consistency where it can be drizzled. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- When the veggies are done cooking, add them all to the same pan and toss with lemon zest. Transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with yogurt. If you are serving as a crudites, place the sauce in a small dish and arrange the veggies around it.