Fruit and Vegetable Mosaic

An assortment served at room temperature can please a crowd or feed a family. Choose a mix of naturally sweet, tart, spicy and flavorful fruits and vegetables such as berries, apricots, cherries, fennel, carrots, potatoes, onions, radicchio. I use whatever is ready in the garden plus some oil-cured olives, fig halves or fresh dates, and spicy pickled peppers I stuff with goat cheese. Asparagus, broccoli or corn are terrific additions. Play around with the interplay of flavors depending on what’s fresh and what else you’re serving.

Roast everything at 400 degrees; a range of vegetables can be in the oven at the same time, kept in their own dishes, checked often and pulled out when tender. I start the potatoes and onions first as they will take 30 minutes or more depending on their size and age.

Place potatoes (in golf-ball size pieces if they are large) in a pan with a bit of olive oil and roll them around until they’re lightly covered; add unpeeled cloves of garlic or chopped up garlic scapes and several stems of lemon thyme and/or rosemary and thinly sliced discs of lemon, sprinkle with salt.

Brush the onions with olive oil, add a film of water with a few drops of balsamic vinegar to their pan, salt and pepper them (sometimes I’ll slow roast carrots, cippolini or pearl onions or shallots: Amanda Hesser’s The Cook and the Gardener has a splendid recipe beautifully illustrated by Kate Gridley). Do the same to radicchio quartered lengthwise.

Add lemon juice as well as olive oil to fennel sliced lengthwise. Add some crushed coriander seeds or cumin seeds or thyme sprigs to baby carrots. Roast cherries, pitted and cut in half, unadorned, for just a minute; the same with figs. Leave berries and dates raw. Arrange everything in a pleasing design, garnish with fresh, colorful nasturtium blossoms.

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