As you've heard me say before, roasting vegetables is the best. It takes very little work or skill, as long as you keep an eye on the stuff so it doesn't burn down the house. And it seems to make everything mellower, sweeter, nuttier, and just plain more digestible. Here, I combine my love of roasting vegetables with my new-found appreciation for sumac.
Sumac, in powdered form, is most often used in Middle Eastern cuisine. It's tart and bright, and emphasizes (or mimics) mild citrus flavors beautifully. Za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend, is merely sumac, salt, roasted sesame seeds, and thyme, and it is heavenly. I put it to work with a couple of additions to make my acorn squash (above) and cauliflower (below) more interesting.
Marinade for one medium acorn squash, one head cauliflower, or equivalent amount of other vegetables):
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sumac
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and coat vegetables. Pour them out onto a baking tray covered in parchment paper and bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, flipping once during the cooking process to brown on both sides.
I added some to my drunken pintos and brown rice, as you can see below. (Along with some of Heidi Swanson's genius roasted kale.)