Roasted vegetables missing one ingredient

Heirloom tomatoes from the Mervin Byler Farm in Van Hornesville, just before roasting.

Heirloom tomatoes from the Mervin Byler Farm in Van Hornesville, just before roasting.

Tomatoes? Check.

Different tomatoes? Check.

Even more tomatoes? Check.

Red bell peppers? Check.

Green bell peppers? Check.

Yellow squash? Check.

Summer squash? Check.

Eggplant? Check.

Red onions?

Red onions?

The nights are growing colder, the stacks of produce boxes at the Mohawk Valley Produce Auction are getting smaller, and I’m now getting antsier. Because our popular roasted vegetables are missing its most important ingredient. I haven’t bought red onions.

About a year ago, we began serving it as a side dish — a few kinds of tomatoes, squash and peppers — to rave reviews. It couldn’t be more simple than roasted vegetables, canola and olive oil and kosher salt.

I think the kudos are really because of the red onion, which brings the ingredients’ flavors together. Mellowed out a long roast in olive oil and subtle flavors brought out by kosher salt, bite-size pieces of onion strike the perfect sweet, soft note. (Compared to white or yellow onions, red onions have more sugar, so you commonly see them served raw. I think that quality is what makes them work best here.)

Because I want to be able to offer the vegetables to guests throughout the year, I decided to stock up at the auction and stuff the freezer. We’re well on our way. Last night, I roasted 200 pounds of yellow, red and heirloom tomatoes to go along with some 200 pints of cherry and grape tomatoes. I roasted a few bushels of red bell peppers, and today, I added green peppers. We already had about three bushels of zucchini forzen, and I added another bushel and a half last night. I would have bought more today, but it was a seller’s market, and I could afford the buy-in.

The eggplant came home today — eight half-bushels. Some is bound for a gratin, but at least half will be roasted tomorrow and join its friends in the freezer.

Next stop: Red onions.

There were no red onions at auction last Tuesday or Friday, though I bought some enormous yellow onions from one of my favorite farmers, Mervin Byler of VanHornesville, who works at the auction. Today, there were two half-bushels of red onions available, but they sold for $15 per box. A little more than I was expecting, though good for Mervin.

Will I pay more? Yes, as desperation increases. There will be red onions in this dish, and they will be local. They may come from a farmstand, they may come an auction. I may have to drive to Herkimer or Schoharie County to find them. But they will be there.

If you dine here through the fall and winter, I’ll hope you’ll be one of the groups that finds the dish on the buffet.


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