7 Vegetables You Should Cook in Your Pizza Oven
There are good reasons cooking aficionados love pizza ovens. At high temperatures, they can in minutes produce delectable pizza, bruschetta and similar delights. At lower ones, they roast beef, pork, chicken and fish to juicy perfection. At all temperatures, they infuse food with deeper flavor and the irresistible appeal of rich browning.
Whether you’re new to the wonders of pizza ovens or ready to expand your culinary horizons, here are seven vegetables you should be cooking in your oven:
- Asparagus. Roasting is one of the easiest ways to cook asparagus. Clean and trim the stalks, spread them in an iron skillet and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and minced garlic. Roast for 10 minutes or until they’re lightly browned and tender.
- Artichokes. Clean them, slice in half and remove the choke. Marinate or lightly oil them and spread on a cooking sheet. In a wood-fired oven, leave small to medium artichokes whole and cook on a bed of coals and embers. Allow 25 to 35 minutes of cooking time for both methods.
- Eggplant. Slice young or non-bitter eggplant varieties, brush with oil and cook on a cooking sheet. Or prepare your favorite eggplant parmesan recipe and cook the casserole in your oven.
- Fennel. The bulbs of the fennel plant have a strong licorice flavor, but roasting sweetens and softens that flavor. Peel and clean the bulbs, slice in half, brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and cook uncovered on a cooking sheet for about an hour.
- Peppers. Roast whole peppers on the oven floor, in an iron skillet or on a bed of hot coals. Turn them regularly until the skin is charred on all sides. Put them in a paper bag to cool, then peel the skins, remove seeds and slice.
- Potatoes. Jacketed potatoes roast in about 45 minutes and skin-on potato wedges cook in 10 to 15 minutes. For a tasty, crispy skin, rub with olive oil and bake potatoes uncovered on a cooking sheet. With wood-fired ovens, bury unoiled, jacketed potatoes in ashes and embers for about an hour then slice them open and eat.
- Sweet potatoes. Bake them bare, wrap them in foil and toss them on the oven floor, or place cubed potatoes on a cooking sheet. Sizes vary, so cooking times will too. Like regular potatoes, skin-on sweet potatoes can be cooked for about an hour in wood-fired ovens under a mound of coals and embers. Simply slice through the charred skin and eat.
Most vegetables should be cooked until fork-tender. Because a well-built pizza oven will retain heat for hours, use this to your advantage to slowly bake vegetable dishes at lower temperatures. If your pizza oven is wood fired, you’re in for a taste treat since hardwood coals and smoke add depth and flavor to any vegetable.