Hasselbackin' for the holidays
If you're looking for a quick, easy way to make a big impression on your holiday table, then you need to hasselback. The process is simply thinly slicing partially through a fruit or vegetable, and then roasting it in the oven — or even in a cast iron pan on the stovetop. While you will typically see this done with potatoes, it works just as well with carrots, apples, pears, parsnips, beets, and winter squash. Once you start hasselbackin', it's kinda hard to stop!
Depending on the fruit or vegetable, you may want to peel it first, then in order to keep from cutting all the way through, place a couple of chopsticks or wooden spoons on either side of whatever you are cutting so that the knife doesn't slice all the way through to the bottom, which helps create a pretty accordion effect. If occasionally the knife does cut through, don't worry about it -- you can still present all the pieces together as if they are still perfectly connected. Once cut, place on a sheet pan, brush the tops with olive oil or melted butter, and sprinkle with a little salt and/or some spices. You can also tuck herbs in between the cuts, like whole bay or sage leaves.
Roast at 425°F until tender, which can be from 15 to 45 minutes depending on the fruit or vegetable. An apple might take only 15 minutes, while a thicker root vegetable might take longer.
These carrots were sprinkled with sumac before roasting, then dusted with a little smoked salt when they came out of the oven.
For winter squash (I used a petite variety called Honeynut, but any winter squash will work), go ahead and remove the seeds and roast them in the oven with the squash, then toss them with a little salt and pepper for a topping for the roasted squash. You can also sprinkle a little brown sugar or honey over the top while roasting.
Apples can go sweet or savory; you can definitely roast them with some maple syrup and melted butter, then serve with vanilla ice cream. They also make a slightly sweet side dish that marries perfectly with pork or poultry: just tuck a few sprigs of fresh thyme between some of the slices, brush with olive oil, and then sprinkle with vanilla bean salt (or regular sea salt). Your guests will love it!