Back to the Kitchen: Oven Roasted Comfort Foods

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gwen-upper110x110BY GWEN KENNEALLY

ki_roastingpan_cOn those rare lazy winter days where I can be at home enjoying the chill, I love to kick up the heat and roast my dinner. The big secret of roasting is that it is so simple. Whether you are using  Pyrex, a baking pan or a Dutch oven, it is a few minutes of prep and then tossing everything together to let it cook, while you take care of other things. The warmth of the oven, the rich aromas and great flavors will surely make these new comfort foods.

Oven-Roasted Fish Stew with Pesto

3 pounds fish steaks or fillets cut in very thick pieces (cod, halibut, shark, sea bass, monkfish, snapper

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

6 tablespoon lemon juice

2 onions, sliced

4 stalks celery, sliced

4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Pinch hot pepper flakes

1 cup dry white wine

4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained

2 cups fish stock or water

Pesto for finishing (see below)

About an hour before you are ready to cook, marinate the fish in a bit of olive oil, the lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt. Refrigerate until needed. Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle the fish pieces with a bit more salt and some pepper. Arrange in an ovenproof baking dish or Dutch oven and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté for about 7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, the garlic, dried thyme, dried oregano and hot pepper flakes and sauté 2 minutes longer. Add the wine and allow for it to cook off for about 2 minutes, and then stir in the tomatoes. Pour mixture over the fish. Add the fish stock and another generous drizzle of olive oil. Cover the baking dish or Dutch oven and bake the fish until cooked through when tested with the point of a knife thrust into the thickest part, about 35-40 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Serve in warm bowls with a generous spoonful of pesto over the top. Serve with warm crusty bread. I servers about 8 and like all soups and stews I like to freeze leftovers in individual containers for a variety of “freezer night” dinner options.

Little Noni’s Pesto

5 large garlic cloves

1 cup pine nuts (or Walnuts work as well)

5 cups packed fresh basil

1-cup fresh parsley

1 cup fresh Parmigiano, coarsely grated

1-cup olive oil

In a blender or food processor mix garlic, nuts, basil, parsley and cheese and process until finely chopped. With motor running add oil mixing until incorporated. This will be enough sauce for the stew as well as enough to spread on sandwiches the next day!

Oven Roasted Salmon and Potatoes

1 pound potatoes, peeled, washed, and cut into wedges

4 tablespoons olive oil

5 rosemary sprigs

5 thyme sprigs

8 whole garlic cloves, peeled

Fine sea salt

Black pepper ground fresh from the mill

2-pound salmon fillet

2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Place the potato wedges in the baking dish; pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over them, Strip 3 sprigs from each of rosemary and thyme. Add all the garlic cloves, and salt, and pepper. Toss thoroughly. Cook for 30 minutes and remove the dish to turn the potatoes over then push to the sides making room in the center for the fish fillet to lie flat. Lay the salmon flat in the dish, skin side down. Strip the leaves from the remaining rosemary and thyme sprigs, scatter them over the fish, add salt and pepper, and sprinkle the bread crumbs and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the fillet. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the fish and place it on a platter. Turn the oven up to broil. Spread the potatoes back out and out and place under the broiler turning once until golden brown. Serve on the same platter as the fish.

Honey Spiced Chicken Tangine

1-tablespoon olive oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into bite size pieces

1-teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons honey

Juice of two limes (about 3 tablespoons)

1-tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1-cup chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup sliced almonds

Heat the oil in the tagine base and sauté the garlic and ginger until translucent. Add the chicken and brown evenly. Stir in the spices and cook for two minutes more. Mix together honey, lime juice, vinegar, stock and pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low heat for about 1-½ hours. When the chicken is cooked add in the raisins s and almonds and garnish with parsley.

Oven Roasted Beef Brisket and Potatoes

5 pounds beef brisket

6 onions cut into 1/4-inch rings

3 carrots, roughly chopped

8 Red potatoes, halved

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil

1-teaspoon thyme

1-teaspoon oregano

3 cups beef stock

Sprinkle brisket with salt, pepper, thyme and oregano. In a large heavy skillet heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Brown brisket about 5 minutes per side. Remove brisket and place in a heavy roasting pan. Add remaining oil to skillet and add onions, garlic and crushed pepper. Sauté until golden over moderate heat stirring occasionally about 20 minutes. Stir in beef stock and bring to a boil. Preheat oven to 350. Pour onion mixture over brisket and cover with foil. Cook for 5 hours checking occasionally and adding more water or stock if necessary. In the last hour add the carrots and potatoes. Brisket should be very tender. Transfer brisket to a cutting board cover with foil and let rest. Discard fat from onion mixture and spoon into a saucepan. Add beef stock and bring to a boil. Using an emulsion blender, puree until smooth. Slice across the grain into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

½ cup olive oil

2 onions, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon Turmeric

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 cups Tomato juice

1 cup sun-dried tomato bits

12 Pitted prunes, halved

15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed

30 black olives

1 teaspoon Salt

2 large russet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/4″ rounds

4 large carrots, peeled, sliced 1/4″ rounds

1 lb eggplant, sliced 1/4″ rounds

2 zucchini, sliced 1/4″ rounds

In heavy ovenproof Dutch oven with lid heat oil over medium heat. Mix in onions and garlic. Cook 5-7 minutes until translucent. Add spices; cook and stir 2 minutes. Mix in tomato juice, tomato bits and prunes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Mix in beans, olives and salt. Remove half the sauce; set aside. Heat oven to 350.  Layer the potatoes and carrots on the sauce remaining in Dutch oven. Cover with the remaining sauce and layers of eggplant and zucchini. With a plate press the vegetables down firmly until the juices rise. Add enough water to barely cover vegetables. Bring to boil over low heat, cover and bake about 1 hour, 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Serve with couscous.

Basic Couscous

1 1/2 cup couscous

2 3/4 cups water or stock

1/2-teaspoon salt

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and stir. Add couscous and remove from heat and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Couscous should be light and fluffy, not gummy. Be sure to allow the couscous to absorb the water.

Oven Roasted Winter Vegetables

12 shallots, peeled

3 cloves garlic

3 butternut squash, peeled and de-seeded

3 carrots, peeled

1 pound rutabagas, peeled

2 sweet potatoes, peeled

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig rosemary

3 tablespoons olive oil

Juice and zest of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.Cut the vegetables into large, chunky pieces – about 1/2 inch Put vegetables in a large bowl, add the herbs, garlic, olive oil and mix. Spread the vegetables out on the baking tray and cook in the pre-heated oven on a high shelf for 30 – 40 minutes, until they’re tender and turning brown at the edges.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. Check out her website and blog

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • Jackie Houchin

    Yum! Honey Spiced Chicken Tangine is on the menue for tomorrow night, as soon as I get the chicken breasts and golden raisins.

    (I can use regular raisins, can’t I?)

  • Linda Coburn

    These all sound so good and I like you can just put them in the oven and relax (or catch up on other things) while they cook. Can’t wait to try all!

  • Jackie Houchin

    Gwen, I tried the Honey-Spice Chicken Tangine, and it was good, especially after adding the almonds and raisins at the end. I expected it to be a little more exotically spicy, however.

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