Bouquet of Baked Spring Vegetables

Spring Vegetables.jpg

Prep it, bake it and serve it all in one casserole. It doesn't get easier than this. Scarlett onions, crimson peppers, orange carrots, emerald asparagus and yellow and green squash bake into a rainbow of colors on your plate. They are the perfect veggies to go with your Easter ham or Passover brisket. 

Plus, this casserole is extremely flexible. If you want to bake it while cooking something else, you can bake it in the lower or upper third or your oven.

You can make it at least 30 minutes before serving, let it stand covered, and it will still be nice and warm. Or you can under bake it, let it sit out for a few hours and then reheat it until the veggies are crisp tender. 

I like to keep the seasonings simple-- garlic, dried basil and thyme--so the veggies can complement whatever you are serving them with.  A squeeze of lemon adds a little zing and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt adds that tiny pop of salt that heightens the flavor of the veggies.  

Of course you can always guild the lily with a generous sprinkling of parm or blue cheese. Or mozzarella or cheddar. Some choices I leave up to you.   

Bouquet of Baked Spring Vegetables

5 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
2½ teaspoons dried basil
3 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons minced garlic
12 ounces (about 36) thin baby carrots, peeled, cut thicker ones in half lengthwise
1 large red onion, peeled, halved and cut into 2-inch chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound summer squash, such as patty pan or zucchini, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch chunks (preferably green and yellow)
1½ pounds asparagus, approximately finger width, bottoms broken off  (If spears are larger, use only 4-inch tips)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish, optional
Favorite cheese for topping, absolutely optional

  1. Arrange rack in center or upper or lower third of oven.  Preheat to 475°F.  
  2. In a small bowl, stir together oil, basil, thyme and garlic. Remove 2 tablespoons to a small bowl. Pour remainder into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Stir in carrots and onion. (Most of the onion slices will separate.) Season with kosher salt and pepper.  Cover and bake for 15 minutes.  
  3. Stir in squash. Top with asparagus and bell pepper.   Drizzle with remaining oil mixture. Season with kosher salt and pepper.   Cover and bake 10 minutes. Veggies should be barely tender. If too hard, recover and bake 3 to 5 more minutes.
    TO MAKE AHEAD: Veggies can sit out covered for 30 minutes. If desired, you can make them several hours ahead by underbaking them. Reheat covered in the  microwave or at 475°F for 7 to 10 minutes or until hot.)
  4. To serve, sprinkle veggies with lemon juice. Stir gently to coat. Serve from baking dish or arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with lemon juice and coarse salt (and cheese, if you want it). 

Makes 8 servings.   

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