Drop the sauté pan for a second. Yes, I know spooning hot oil/butter/fat onto anything is really cool, but I think that fall is the best season for roasting... and roasting is hot. Sure it takes a lot of effort to preheat an oven, and who can figure out how those timers work these days? But If you can pry your fingers off that All-Clad ten incher for a moment or two you might really enjoy the results you can achieve by using something in the kitchen other than the stove top to cook your food.
There are two cooks in our house. But my wife controlled the oven for decades, I was the sauté man. Over time I learned things about our oven and gradually I began imitating her without blowing up or burning down the house.
I started out with baked dishes that required a lot of prep work that my wife tended to avoid like lasagna and then started using the creuset my sister got us for meat dishes like roasts and cacciatore. I learned that I did not need to brown a roast – and that preheating was not such a bit deal when roasting mushrooms, which in my oven are just about done when the oven reaches roasting temp. My wife was getting a little concerned when I started taking a liking to roasted vegetables. It all began when we sampled roasted squash with red peppers and onions a decade ago. I tried to weasel in on her turf then, but the most she would let me do was peel and cut the squash – roasting was her territory. Perhaps she retained the memory of the Thanksgiving she let me make stuffing and roast the turkey. I decided that doubling the celery would be a good idea. I was dead wrong. I just about poured the stuffing out of that bird.
Now we are on the left coast and very close to the source of really exceptional produce. I am starting to feel really sorry for east coast vegetarians. I purchased the veggies for us out there for nearly three decades. For the most part veggies are like fish: Fresh is best. Now we go to a farmers market and two grocery stores every week to keep or inventory fresh and varied. After well over a year here I am sitll not a veggie person - but this is an easier place to be if you are.
Neither one of us knew how to work the oven here so we started out even on the controls, yet we have pretty much maintained our traditional roles, except that we sauté very little, and roast a whole lot more, especially in the fall.
Friday evening I split Brussels sprouts as my wife cut up a cauliflower and red onion. I pulled out a half sheet cake pan and she wrestled it away from me after she turned the oven on to preheat it, and spread out the veggies, poured olive oil on them and tossed them to coat evenly. She ordered me to fetch the sea salt and pepper mill, both of which she twisted over the pan before sliding it into the oven.
I cannot describe how good those veggies tasted off that pan as they cooled just enough to eat. I am not a generally a veggie lover, but roasting good fresh veggies properly lifts the flavor from great to something far beyond good. This batch was heavenly – browned but not burnt, crisp and crunchy at the same time, a feast for us to savor right out of our own oven.