Tuesday, October 19, 2021

My Homemade Rainbow Veggies

"A rainbow is the product of physics working for your appreciation of beauty." -Kyle Hill

^ My inner child is smiling.

According to the eight-year-old version of me who lives inside my soul, the only thing more magical, ethereal, and beautiful to behold than a rainbow is - perhaps - a unicorn. 

She does not care to eat a unicorn and neither do I.

But as the Skittles people know, the idea of tasting a rainbow is altogether tempting and for several years, I've been experimenting with recipes that allow me to do just that. 

The world of post-millennial Pinterest boards gives me lots of options, all of which begin with the same premise: sort out a collection of delicious vegetables in the ROY G BIV spectrum.

Then it's a matter of chopping, seasoning, and preparing them for the oven.

Cooking variations galore exist and I've tried them all:

wrap them in individual foil packets,
roast in a parchment papered sheet pan, 
pop them into a cast iron skillet,
zap them in an air fryer.

And what about meat? To add or not to add?

^ A simple white serving dish is a must for this visual delight. Think of it as a cloud.

After playing about with the many options, I've landed on an approach for making rainbow veggies that optimizes their fantastical deliciousness and undeniable charm, all while minimizing the work of making them.


One vegetable per color in the rainbow spectrum :

Red: cherry tomatoes, red bell pepper
Orange: carrots, orange bell pepper, butternut squash, sweet potatoes
Yellow: summer squash, yellow bell pepper, corn, yellow beans, Yukon gold potatoes
Green: asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green bell pepper, Brussels sprouts, zucchini
Purple: red onion, red cabbage, purple potatoes

Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh thyme
8-12 garlic cloves 

Optional: boneless chicken breasts

^They'll likely get a bit scrambled during the cooking phase, but it's worth the effort and oh, so gratifying to start out with tidy rows of color. 

^ My hat is off to the true vegetarians among us. My family likes meat.


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Wash and chop the vegetables. Cut sizes that will allow all the vegetables to cook in roughly the same amount of time.

3. Lay the vegetables in rows to fill a sheet pan. A cast iron skillet works too but a rectangular sheet pan allows for cuter rows.

4. Liberally drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

5. Wash and pat dry the fresh thyme. Strip the leaves off the stems; distribute them evenly over the vegetables.

6. Peel the garlic and slice it into bite-size pieces; distribute them evenly over the vegetables.

7. Pop the pan into the oven; stir after 10 minutes and then continue to check and stir every 5-10 minutes until they look soft, browned, and delicious.

8. Pull from the oven, and arrange in rainbow order on a serving dish. A pair of tongs is your best friend.  

If opting for chicken, cut into 2-3 bite pieces and arrange in a cast iron skillet. Season and cook just as the vegetables, but put them in their own serving dish so they don't mar the visual perfection of the rainbow veggies. 

^ Take the photos before ringing the dinner bell. Trust me.

Enjoy the colors before putting the plate on the table, because these beauties taste as good as they look. 

I suspect that the rainbow's magical power of adorableness influences the palate of everyone who lays eyes on this feast, and my family devours rainbow veggies with surprising enthusiasm.

Even for adults.

As the wife, mother, and head chef, I look on and smile at my family's hearty enthusiasm. 

But my inner child is not surprised. She has always known that everyone loves a rainbow.

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