What's Cooking: Roasted veggies are worth some space on your plate

Something magical happens to vegetables when you roast them. The flavors seem to intensify and if you can get a char on the veggies, even better. The first step in roasting delicious vegetables is to sauté them in a skillet first.

Why? That’s where they get browned and caramelized. (If you’re bored and want to do some fun reading, look up the Maillard Reaction. It is named after the French Chemist Louis-Camille Maillard who put a definition to the beautiful caramelization we get in cooking.

The effect is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor.) Caramelization equals culinary lusciousness! Add a tasty cheesy cream sauce over top and you have a great side or main meal for the vegetarian! (With the cheese and milk, it will depend upon which vegetarianism you follow.)

Choose the vegetables below or add your own veggie twist. It’s well worth a space on your plate!

Ingredients:

• 1 Vidalia onions peeled and chopped

• 1 large shallots, quartered

• 5 cloves garlic minced

• 1 zucchini halved and sliced into ½” thick half moons

• 2 cups broccoli florets cut in small pieces

• 2 cups button white mushrooms, sliced in half

• 1 large sweet potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces

• 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half

• 2 red bell peppers, chopped into bite sized pieces

• Olive oil for drizzling over veggies

• 1 tsp salt

• 1 tsp pepper

• 1 tsp garlic powder

• 1 cup aged sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

• 1 1/4 cup whole milk

• 1 tsp smoked paprika

• 1 tsp fresh oregano

• 1 tsp salt

• 1 tsp pepper

• 1/8 tsp white pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Heat 3 TBSP olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and shallots and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until softened and lightly golden. Add garlic, zucchini, broccoli and mushrooms and sweet potatoes, sautéing another 6 minutes or until veggies are softened.

Place all of the sautéed veggies, plus the cherry tomatoes and sliced red peppers in a large sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Roast vegetables in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the red pepper is tender.

While the veggies are roasting, make the cheese sauce. In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine the cheddar cheese, whole milk, smoked paprika, oregano, olive oil, salt, pepper and white pepper. Stir continuously until a thick cheesy sauce is achieved, about 10 minutes.

Pour the cheesy sauce over the vegetables and cook for 5 more minutes, or until all the veggies are fork-tender. Serve immediately. Serves 4

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