July 31, 2013

canadian cooking: roasted Ontario vegetables

I'm on a mission to discover what Canadian cooking is.

Since moving to Ontario I've posted a handful of my personal recipes that I like to make for Bobby and myself. It's been fun and rewarding to photograph and put our favorites dishes on paper (er, on the computer screen) but it dawned on me yesterday that none of them have any connection to where we live. As a food lover, maybe I should be making an effort to cook traditional Canadian cuisine?

The problem is, I don't know what traditional Canadian food entails. And worse, Bobby doesn't either! Raised in Montreal, he offered up poutine and torteriere as popular Canadian dishes but as far as a hallmark style of cooking goes, he said it really depends what province you're in. I spent some time researching the topic and found more than one website that said almost verbatim what Bobby did - that Canadian cooking is best defined by regions and even then it isn't strongly identifiable the way other cuisines are (think: Italian, Chinese or Mexican food).

So now I'm on a mission to discover just what exactly constitutes Canadian cooking. I'm up to the challenge! By combing through local food blogs, such as Valerie Lugonja's A Canadian Foodie, I've deduced that the common denominators of Canadian cooking are the following: using fresh local ingredients and plenty of seasonal vegetables, and adding just a dash of French (read: butter, wine and herbs) to pretty much everything.

My first meal under my new banner was a medley of roasted summer vegetables, all locally grown in Ontario. They were the perfect complement to the baked chicken thighs and fresh corn on the cob I served with them. Nothing was fried, everything was all natural and all Canadian!

Roasted Vegetables
serves 4 as a side dish

2 medium red onions
1 zucchini
2 small potatoes
3 tomatoes
1 small fennel bulb
2 red peppers
3 cloves of garlic
dried herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano all work nicely)
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Quarter the onions and dice all the vegetables into pieces that are approximately the same size (no larger than 1/2 inch). 

2. Pile the vegetables into a baking dish. Pour the olive oil over the vegetables, then season with the herbs (about 1/2 a teaspoon of each is sufficient) and salt & pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly but gently (it's easiest to use your hands).
3. Put the dish in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. After the first 15-20 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and gently stir the vegetables with a wooden spoon so that the ones at the bottom come to the top. 
4. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Finish with a bit more salt and serve.

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