Steamed vegetables too boring for you? I hear ya! Roasting vegetables is a sure-fire way to coax out incredible flavour from your vegetables. But if you’d like even MORE flavour from your roasted veggies, and serve up an impressive, restaurant-quality vegetarian side dish, this Brown Butter Roasted Tomatoes, Asparagus & Kumquats with a Creamy Dill Sauce should be your next stop!
Forget steaming or sautéing, roasting vegetables is one of the easiest and best ways to impart incredible flavour to your vegetables. While I’m not vegan or vegetarian, I’d have no qualms about eating veggies all day every day, as long as my vegetables were drenched in flavour! So steaming or just roasting my veggies with boring oil, salt and pepper won’t cut it for me. I need them dancing with flavour, reminding me that perfectly roasted vegetables can be every bit as exciting as a perfectly cooked steak. So if you too are wondering what to do with those fresh veggies, or how to make an amazing restaurant-quality vegetarian side dish that’ll leave everyone breathless (because you just made them a stunningly flavourful meal, not because you gave them asthma), these Brown Butter Roasted Tomatoes, Asparagus & Kumquats would be a great place to start! (Ok, so tomatoes are technically a fruit, but we eat it as veggies!).
And for us it all started when we were doing our regular grocery shopping on a Saturday a few weeks ago, when I spotted a “Kumquats imported from Florida” sign. They looked so beautiful, like tiny ovals of bright sunshine trapped inside plastic punnets, calling out to me. I LOVE kumquats, but living here in mid-Missouri, spotting kumquats at the supermarket is like a Bigfoot sighting. So whenever they do become available, I make sure to get as much as I can to cook with them as well just eat them by the hand.
So I made a beeline to the Kumquat sign and was thankful to find that there were a few punnets still left. After a moment’s hesitation, I got two double punnets, because I wasn’t sure if they’d still be there the following week to come back for more. (For the record, I was right, the kumquats were gone the following week). The rest of that morning was a blur, because I was imagining all the ways in which those kumquats were going to serve me. This recipe of course is one of them.
Alright, so about those flavours. Citrus is an amazing way to bring out all those toasty flavours of your roasted vegetables. So if you can’t find kumquats, use Meyer lemons, which are easy to find this time of year and are a little sweeter and less tangy than regular lemons. I actually like eating Meyer lemons raw, and add them to salads sometimes. These will bring out sweet flavours when roasted. Just make sure to cut them into quartered cubes.
OR, you could use oranges, blood oranges or clementines as well, which are even sweeter. Roasting vegetables brings out their inherent sweetness, so pairing them with bright citrus flavours is a great way to perk up those flavours even more!
Next up, we have the brown butter (beurre noisette). I’ve been using brown butter in my baking for a long time, but not nearly as much in my cooking. Browning butter turns the milk solids in it golden brown and brings out amazingly rich nutty flavours that instantly enhance the flavour profile of anything it touches. Besides it’s super simple to brown butter, although you do have to keep a close eye on it to make sure that you don’t burn it. If you’d like a visual guide for the stages of browning butter and what to look for, click here. For another delicious idea for using brown butter in your cooking, check out how I made brown butter pasta here.
I browned the butter on the stove and then transferred it to the roasting pan and tossed the vine tomatoes and asparagus well in the brown butter to make sure they absorbed all those wonderful toasty, nutty flavours. So the brown butter is used here in place of the olive oil, and this adds another dazzling layer of flavour.
The tomatoes are roasted on the vine until they burst and bring out the juicy, sweet, concentrated flavours trapped within. You can of course use heirloom tomatoes or roma tomatoes as well. Roasting the kumquats coaxes out their sweetness and a touch of bitterness as well, and paired with the nutty flavour of brown butter, they make for a wonderfully complex flavour profile. And by roasting them all on the same roasting pan, you make sure that the roasted vine tomatoes and roasted asparagus soak up all the juices and flavours on your roasting dish.
This is such an incredibly flavourful and versatile dish with a brilliant medley of flavours that turns regular carnivores like my husband into happy vegetarians (even if it’s for just a brief moment). And if you’d like it as a side dish, you could pair it perfectly with steak, pork, chicken, or any kind of fish or seafood!
AAAND, I didn’t stop there! I used all the juices left on the roasting pan that were already infused with the flavours of roasted tomatoes, roasted asparagus, roasted kumquats, roasted garlic etc. and turned it into a delightfully creamy dill sauce/glaze and tossed the roasted vegetables in it! Holy cow, it was SO DAMN GOOD!
You could just as easily substitute the dill with thyme or rosemary as well if you’d like to use the sauce with a protein.
And to complete the perfect dinner, I served the roasted vegetables as a side dish with a juicy, perfectly cooked piece of salmon! You can find out all about that, tomorrow! 🙂
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 vines of tomatoes (about 1 - 1.5 lbs)
- 1 - 2 bunches of asparagus
- ½ punnet of kumquats,
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Splash of cream (about 2 -3 tbsp)
- White wine, stock or cream (as needed)
- Chopped dill (for salmon)
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
- Peel and smash the garlic cloves.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan until it turns into brown butter. Transfer this to the roasting pan, and spread it across the bottom.
- Place the vine tomatoes on the roasting pan with half of the garlic tucked between them. Pour some of the brown butter over the tomatoes and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
- Roast in the pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes, while you prep the asparagus and kumquats.
- Wash and snap off the woody ends of the asparagus.
- Wash the kumquats and slice them into 4. Remove seeds. Set aside.
- After 10 minutes of roasting, remove the tomatoes from the oven. Place the asparagus on the pan and toss it well to coat with the butter. Sprinkle the rest of the garlic and kumquats on top and season with salt and pepper.
- Return to the oven to roast for another 20 minutes (cook the salmon in the last 10 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and transfer the roasted vegetables to a plate. While the roasting pan is still hot, add the cream and herbs and mix with the brown butter while crushing the roasted garlic into the sauce. Add a splash of wine, stock or water if the sauce is too thick. Season with salt. SEE NOTES if you'd like to make the sauce on the stove top.
- Serve as a side.
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