While making pizza in an ilFornino Wood Fired Oven is a good thing, you should capitalize on the oven to also prepare wood fired roasted vegetables. Some vegetables are best prepared while flame is present, and others are best prepared with the residual heat that is available after the flames have died out. This article will explain some of the techniques that can help maximize the results and offer a variety of easy veggies to satisfy everyone’s taste.
Easily Roasted Vegetables in Wood Fired Oven
- Butternut Squash
- Spaghetti Squash
- Parsnip and Turnip
- Bell Peppers, Sashito, and Jalapenio
- Corn on the Cob in the husk
- Asparagus stalks coated in olive oil and seasoning
- Green and Yellow Squash medley
- Onions, Garlic, Leeks and Mushrooms
You can pick your favorite veggies, but keep in the back of your mind, textures and densities that would dictate how much time is required to cook each. That would determine if you could mix things up or cook separately to control the doneness. Also, keep in mind as to whether you want to FIRE ROAST or SIMPLY ROAST.
Fire Roast requires exposing the vegetable directly to flame. Peppers, and whole Italian eggplant are well suited for this approach. Wood fired eggplant is well suited for making Middle Eastern dishes such as Eggplant Salad or Babaganoosh. Other popular favorites are as a variety of Potatoes such as Idaho for really good and creamy baked potato flavor. Even Sweet Potatoes can gain an extra level of flavor and texture.
Steps in Preparation of Roasted Vegetables in Wood Fired Oven:
Once you choose the vegetables that you would like to roast, group them by density and equivalent cooking times. For example, Asparagus may not need as much time as carrots or beets. So they should be done separately. Consider items that would benefit from FIRE ROASTING. That includes eggplant and bell peppers, as they benefit from the intense heat to char the surface. Other vegetables may need to be completely enclosed by aluminum foil to promote internal steaming. I do this for large baked potatoes and beets. Once washed and dried, I offer a slight coating of oil and wrap tightly.
In the case of BEETS, you don’t have to peel them since when done; the skin will just fall away by a slight scraping. A whole clove of garlic should be cut across the top to expose the internal cloves, salted and drizzled with olive oil and wrapped tightly with aluminum foil.
Large items such as BUTTERNUT SQUASH can be done roast in several ways. For a mashed version, or even a basis for butternut squash soup, I recommend simply cutting the squash in half lengthwise. Remove all the seeds with a spoon and after lightly applying olive oil all over and salt, place face down on a foil-lined sheet pan. No need to wrap in foil as the skin will retain the moisture and cook internally. For chunks, you should peel the butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds and cut thick slices. Make large dice from these thick slices. Toss in olive oil, and season with salt, pepper and you favorite fresh herbs, such as finely chopped rosemary and thyme. Spread out on a lined sheet pan and flip with a spatula during the cooking cycle.
Butternut squash can be teamed up with carrots, potatoes, parsnips and turnips as a medley of flavors. Make sure you cut your vegetables in approximately the same size for even cooking.
TIPS for Roasted Veggies:
Temperature management and timing: Keep in mind; this is a wood fired oven. As such, as time goes on the temperature will decrease.
1. Introduce foods to be charred when flame is available. Bell peppers and whole eggplant are good candidates for this.
2. Start your big bulky items at a high temperature when flame is gone. The timing of this is perfect, as it assumes you have produced your last pizza, and now have the real estate to introduce pans in the oven. Between 550 and 600 is when I place my halved butternut squash, whole beets and baking potatoes to roast. Just don’t put them too close to the coals. If placed far enough away, whole corn on the cob which has had the silk removed, can also be added. Simply soak in water, keeping the green outer leaves, and wrap in aluminum foil for extra steaming. These can, after a while be place near the glowing coals to create a flavorful char.
3. As the temperature drops to about 500 degrees, place you sheet pans or aluminum trays in the oven. If you trays have sides, you can even stack them to create extra space, as flat trays take up more space.
4. Periodically, you should rotate and even reposition your Roasted vegetables, and trays to benefit from more direct heat. You should periodically remove trays to both inspect the progress and use a spatula to expose the bottoms. Replace and repeat as necessary.
5. If you like traditional grilled items, you can scatter your coals and use the ilFornino Stainless steel cooking grill in order to grill onions, or thick slices of zucchini.
The oven floor temperature may be much hotter than the ambient temperature of the chamber, as it retains heat. As such, be aware of potential burning of the bottom of you pan ingredients as you hear the sizzle.
Vegetables roasted in a wood fired oven can be elevated to a new level of flavors and textures. You should capitalize on the fact that you have heated your oven, and now it can serve you well beyond just pizza.
So, plan ahead, chose and prepares you ingredients before you make your pies. That way, you can transition effortlessly without losing that critical window of temperature. Make more than you think you need, as they can be used during the week in a variety of ways.