Like fruits that improve by concentrating their flavors with a bit of oven drying, commercial vegetables can slim down and improve their flavor by losing a bit of their irrigation water. I recommend only root vegetables that are full of starches and sugars (since things like fennel, which I have seen treated this way, just get tough and boring). The exception to the root rule is pumpkin or any of the hard squash like hubbard, acorn, butternut, or turban.
Use celery root, onions, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, salsify, rutabagas, parsnip, and turnips. For those with a wild streak, you can also forage and use the root stalks of bullrushes, cattails, spatterdock (water lily), pickerel weed, burdock, groundnut, and day lily.
Using a wood oven produces the most flavorful results, but since almost no one in America has one, I suggest using a covered grill with as little smoke as possible, though a touch makes vegetables taste even better.
Preheat the oven to 325°F
Put all the vegetables in a bowl. Add the thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss together. Cover and leave 2 hours, tossing the vegetables together a couple of times to spread the marinade ingredients around evenly.
Put the vegetables in a baking pan, cover, and roast for 1 hour. Remove the cover, turn the vegetables over, and cook for another hour, or until tender. If some finish before others, remove them to the bowl. (If using a covered grill, put the vegetables on a metal baking sheet and put that on the grill.)
Serve plain with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil or as an accompaniment to other dishes.
© 2003 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.