When winter weather hits and the heavy feeling of dark evenings bears down, settles in for a few weeks of crisp and biting chill, a wonderful phenomenon happens simultaneously. Just as the light settles low and the temperature creeps towards freezing, we instinctively turn towards warmth and seek to create it by any means possible. One simple and comforting way by which we create light on gloomy evenings is by conjuring up a beaming bowl of hot satisfaction to cheer you from the inside out.
I love winter and all that comes with it, most especially the food. Honestly I find very little in the culinary world more delightful than the rich, indulgent, punchy, flavour packed savoury meals that come hand in hand with winter’s arrival.
Here is a dinner I put together recently when I shivered in from work one dark and cold evening. It had big, bold flavours that wake your senses and sooth your tired soul. Spice is always a great partner to winter and this recipe brings spice and slow roasting together to create a dish that shines and casts away any sign of gloom from your evening instantly as it emerges gloriously from the steaming oven.
Spicy Rosemary and Balsamic roasted Vegetables with creamy Polenta.
This is a two dish recipe. Another aspect I adore, less mess, more enjoyment.
For the vegetables I used what I had. I happened to have a selection of Chantilly carrots so I quartered these and tumbled them into a roasting dish. To this I added chunks of red onion, two cloves of garlic that I just crushed and threw in and finally a good piece of sliced red chili for undeniable warming effect. This whole combination is comfort defined, with a quiet the implication that it will also heal and protect against the wear and tear cold weather brings. To this bowl I drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar and seasoned well with salt and pepper and tossed in fresh rosemary sprigs. That was it. I roasted this delicious, fragrant dish for about 45 minutes at 180 Celsius until golden, sticky and cooked through. Other additions that would compliment would be parsnips and perhaps some chickpeas which roast to crunchy delights.
As the vegetables approached there final minutes of cooking I boiled polenta, very simply in a water/milk mix, seasoned and poured onto a plate to be adorned with the incredibly enticing and seasonal vegetables. You can of course should you choose add some cheese to the polenta to finish, a hard goats or Parmesan would work really well. Usually I would but this time I felt it was coming together nicely as it was and surprisingly for me I went without cheese, I was having a very laid back kind of day.
To complete the dish I scattered over chopped nuts of my choosing, typically this is a collection of chunks and chips, big and small rough chopped hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts but it varies with my mood and taste, use whatever are your favourites or leave out depending on your mood and preference.
This dish is guaranteed to set a smile firmly on your face, fill your stomach and warm you right up on any cold winter night that might lie ahead for you. Embrace winter, we can’t stop its arrival but we sure can enjoy nights by the fire and big bowls of steaming, winter woes dispelling food.