Colorful squash and cherry tomatoes roasted in garlic, basil and oregano-infused olive oil, topped with crunchy parmesan. A healthy and flavorful side dish!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Calories: 70 per serving
This is one of those awesome side dishes that makes for a pretty presentation (and is in Christmas colors…this could conceivably be a lighter food offering at a Christmas party or dinner), is crazy tasty and is light on calories. Talk about a triple threat.
There’s something simultaneously refreshing and comforting about roasted squash. I know neither yellow squash nor zucchini are in season, but when the weather is cold and cloudy (it’s been overcast here for a solid two weeks), you have to do what you can to bring sunshine inside! And what better way to do it than with colorful summer squash and bright, acidic cherry tomatoes? The sprinkling of parmesan is just the icing on top.
I got tripped up for a moment when naming this recipe—should it be roast or roasted squash? Or wait, is it technically baked? What’s the difference between baked and roasted chicken? Very linear progression there. While it’s somewhat semantic, I’m very interested in naming conventions, so I looked into the differences, first between roasting and baking, then between roast and roasted.
While there’re no hard and fast distinctions between roasting and baking (I say this because as soon as I read a set of rules for one or the other, I could think of exceptions), there are broad differences that make deciding whether something is baked or roasted easy. It used to be that roasting was done over open flame (so if you’re making something on a spit over a fire, guess there’s no mystery as to what you’re doing), but since both baking and roasting are done in ovens nowadays, we run into some murkiness.
The main distinguisher is what you’re making; overwhelmingly, sweet stuff gets baked, savory stuff gets roasted. Alternatively, something that starts as a batter or dough gets baked, whereas stuff that starts with structure is roasted. It’s convenient that these things often fall into matching categories (that is, cakes are sweet and begin as batter, meat is savory and starts off with more or less its final structure).
Temperature is another way to differentiate the two; when using temperatures over 400 F | 200 C | Gas Mark 6, you’re generally roasting (but again, not if that thing is sweet or a bread), while baking tends to be done at lower temperatures.
Lastly, if you coat the food in a fat, it’s generally roasted. Think turkey brushed with butter, pork packed in lard, or (as in today’s case), vegetables coated in oil. Using fat helps keep moisture in (useful for cooking at higher temperatures) and induce a Maillard reaction.
Using this criteria as our basis, it’s clear that today’s recipe is roasted: we’re using veggies (hey, scientifically a tomato may be a fruit, but from a culinary perspective, it’s a vegetable), cooking at a higher temperature and coating everything in olive oil. Check, check and check.
As far as using roast vs roasted goes, when to go with one or the other is purely convention. In technical terms, using roast creates a compound noun (such as “roast duck”), while “roasted” is an adjective. Both pretty much mean the same thing, but we generally use roast with meats (you wouldn’t say roasted beef) and roasted for everything else.
Make sure your oven rack is in the middle position and set your oven to 425 F | 220 C | Gas Mark 7 to preheat.
Line or grease a large baking dish. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 3 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons (4 small cloves) minced garlic, 1 teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper.
Thinly slice 3 small yellow squash, 3 small zucchinis and halve 250 g (1 pint) cherry tomatoes. Place them in a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle the prepared olive oil mixture over the squash and tomatoes.
Toss to coat.
Alternating between yellow squash and zucchini, layer them in a long column. Try to use the larger medallions in the middle and save the smaller ones for the ends.
For the next column, switch directions (that is, start at the other end of the pan). I also switch my starting and ending color.
Repeat this process until you’ve filled the pan. You can shift and adjust the columns pretty easily if you need to. I usually have a couple of pieces of squash left over at the end—generally the smaller pieces that don’t fit well
Place the cherry tomatoes (now good and soaked in olive oil goodness!) between the columns of squash. They don’t have to be in perfect single-file lines.
Sprinkle a ½ cup grated parmesan over the prepared dish.
Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the parmesan is browned and the vegetables are tender. I sometimes broil it on high for a few minutes at the end to brown the parmesan more.