We had been discussing Christmas gifts. “I know what we should get for you, Mommy,” said Agastya, very confidently, “a pot.” I was surprised. “Why?” I asked. “Because you love to cook,” he said. I hadn’t realized that my then 5-year old knew this of me. “But I don’t cook as well as nani or nan-amma“, I said. “But your food also tastes good, mommy. It’s very good.”
I swelled up with pride, grasping at that small compliment. I carried it with me months later, into the Le Creuset store, where I stood gazing, as I always do, at their collection of enameled cast iron cookware, unable to decide what I really needed, hesitant to bring home yet another pot into my 5 x 5 kitchen. My husband came over, and asked “Would you like one?” I shook my head “No.” He knew better. We ended up choosing a large, very large shallow fry pan so I could pan roast vegetables in a single layer. I liked the bright cherry red color, the tidy grasps on either side and no long fussy handle, the smooth creamy interior, the serious weight of the pot.
Now on most evenings I arrive home, wait for my pan to heat up, pour in some olive oil and toss in my vegetables with a sprinkle of kosher salt. They roast slowly on low heat and emerge slightly charred, tender and sweet. A warm vegetable side to be eaten just as is or with a dipping sauce (sriracha + fresh squeezed lemon juice + honey). I especially like cooking Brussels sprouts, asparagus and winter squash this way.