Roasted Winter Roots with Walnut pesto

I’m always a little surprised how much weather and food are connected for me. It’s going to be a cold week here in the Netherlands, with temperatures below zero degrees Celsius, so I’m feeling like eating stews, soups, sauerkraut with smoked sausages, and so on. Comforting stuff. Who wants a salad for dinner right now? Last night I served these winter veggies with a walnut pesto and a grilled steak. A perfect simple dinner for a cold winter day.

Some notes: You want soft vegetables with a nice caramelized outside. To get this, you should use a baking sheet instead of a baking dish with curved edges. This way the steam of the vegetables can evaporate more easily. The baking time depends on the oven and the size of your cut veggies. So check the vegetables regularly and toss them once or twice.

Serves 4 as a side dish
Action Time: 10 minutes, plus 40-60 minutes roasting

4-5 medium carrots
4-5 medium parsnips
3-4 medium red and/or yellow beets, scrubbed
a few springs of rosemary
3 tbsp olive oil

For the pesto:
3.5 oz/ 50 g walnuts
1 garlic clove
a large handful of flat leaf parsley
a large handful of basil
3.5 oz/ 50 g grated Parmesan
1/2 tbsp of capers
about 7 tbsp/ 100 ml olive oil
lemon juice to taste

Extra: food processor

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Peel and wash the carrots and parsnips, then quarter them lengthwise (or cut them in half, depending on size). You want the vegetables to be uniform in size for even cooking. Scrub the beets and slice them thickly, about 1.5 cm (1/2 inch).

2. On a baking tray, toss the veggies with the olive oil, add the rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 40-60 minutes in the oven, until they are soft, caramelized and slightly charred at the ends.

3. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Blend the walnuts, garlic, parsley, basil, cheese, and capers in a food processor. Add the olive oil and blend until you have a bright green sauce. Add some more herbs if the sauce is not green enough. Add some lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Remove the veggies from the oven and serve with the pesto. You’ll probably end up with more pesto than you need, but you can keep it in the fridge for several days. It’s also good on crostini or with roast chicken.

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