Beets

Root vegetables are ideal for roasting. Beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic—all take on a range of flavors missing from a raw or boiled preparation. The hidden sugars rise to the surface and caramelize, and the oven’s enclosed, indirect heat intensifies flavors. High-temperature roasting seals the surface, leaving the interior soft and moist, while low heat deters mushiness. Either way, the result is delicious.

Most root vegetables can be roasted in the same way: Cut them into pieces, coat them with some oil so that they cook rapidly and don’t stick to the pan, and spread them evenly and turn them occasionally for consistent cooking. Even beets and garlic can be roasted in this way. But I like to wrap these vegetables whole in foil, let this bonus layer and their natural skins seal in their juices and flavor, and then remove the skins and cut them down to size at the end.
Learn to roast beets and make Roasted Beet and Cheese Salad

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Grilled Tomatoes

I grill a lot of vegetables, from asparagus to tomatillos, but I probably spend the most time grilling tomatoes. Not only are they delicious on a skewer with other vegetables for dinner, but they’re also fabulous when pulled off the canning shelf or from the freezer. And the process for grilling large tomatoes is easy: slice them in half, sear them cut side down on a hot grill for a couple of minutes, and then flip and cook a few more minutes until soft.

Those of us with large gardens quickly come up with enough grilled tomato batches for canner loads of salsa, Bloody Mary mix, and pasta sauce. But in recent years, I’ve been running a small batch to freeze in cubes—the perfect size to drop into a soup, spread on a pizza crust, or simply dip into with mozzarella-stuffed breadsticks.
Learn to make Grilled Tomato Pizza Sauce and Stuffed and Grilled Breadsticks

Grill It, Roast It, Smoke It

And just like that, September is here. Long before I’m ready for summer to be over, the month that signals the start of fall rolls in. But even though a few of August’s garden-fresh favorites are finished for the season, September’s list of harvestable fruits and vegetables is the longest of year, with the last of the summer beans, berries, and corn bumping up against the first of the fall greens, plums, and winter squash.

If August is the month for enjoying fresh fruit and veg, September is the month for adding a bit of charred, caramelized, and smoky flavor to the produce on the table. We’ll be grilling, roasting, and smoking all month at Twice as Tasty—mostly thanks to some incredible response from recent Twice as Tasty workshops.

Although my September schedule is quickly filling up, it’s not too late to get in on the current lineup or featured workshops locally. And Twice as Tasty will be on the road again in late October! For more details, click here.
Read more about grilling, roasting, and smoking

Fresh Tomatoes

Tomatoes top the list of my favorite fresh summertime, homegrown vegetables. (Yes, scientifically, they’re fruit. But to a cook, they’re vegetables.) These are fresh summertime favorites because their sweet, juicy flesh is at its peak, tasting completely different from tomatoes that have been grilled, roasted, or otherwise cooked or preserved. They’re homegrown favorites because despite the few tomato varieties available in grocery stores, hundreds of varieties are available as seed.

We planted 26 tomato starts in late May and have been harvesting 14 varieties this month. Some are tiny, bright red cherry tomatoes; some are dark purple giants. My childhood loves are sweet Yellow Pears I eat like candy from the vine, but some of my recent favorites are heirloom Black Cherry tomatoes, with large (for the “cherry” class), dusky fruit, and dense, heart-shaped Oxheart tomatoes. Each adds a distinct flavor and texture to fresh appetizers and salads.
Learn to make Herbed-Tomato Dip and Panzanella (Tomato and Bread Salad)