As an avid cook with a full-time job and two young children, there’s a question I’m asked more than any other: Do you cook dinner every night? And if so, how? My answer: No, not every night. I am not a superhero. (Also, I live in New York, where there are just too many great restaurants to pass up.) That said, I do put a home-cooked meal on the table most nights, though it doesn’t mean I am cooking every day. Instead, I roast—in big, weekly batches. After years of trying to streamline my time in the kitchen, roasting has become my secret weapon. Why? First, it makes everything taste better. Second, as a technique, roasting is basically the same no matter your focus: Toss evenly sized pieces of meat, fruit, or veg in fat, season with salt, place in the oven somewhere around 400°F for anywhere from 12 to 45 minutes. Done! Third: Roasting allows me to multitask. While dinner roasts, it needs to be left alone. This gives me time to read with my children or return emails. (Hooray!) Finally, roasting yields great leftovers to be used in infinite ways. A house favorite is to toss roasted root vegetables with baby greens and a quick, bright sauce conjured from herbs, capers, and chopped nuts. I may not have cooked it that day, but it’s one of the most satisfying and simplest from-scratch meals I know.—Gail Simmons
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons roughly chopped roasted walnuts
Freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
Whisk together olive oil, mint, tarragon, capers, and garlic. Stir in walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill until ready to use, up to 2 days. Serve over warm or room-temperature roasted vegetables.
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