I don't know about you, but few phrases get on my nerves more than, "What's for dinner?" I always want to respond: "I don't know. What is for dinner?" Nevermind the asker may be my friend's five year-old. I figure if she's old enough to ask, then she's old enough to pony up some suggestions.
One of the nice things about this time of year is that crisp autumn days are perfect for soup-making. My favorite fall soup to make is roasted garlic and eggplant, but practically any vegetable lends itself to being roasted: potatoes, tomatoes; bell peppers of any color; mushrooms. Carrots. Most arromatic vegetables (onions, garlic, shallots) are lovely roasted. I like using eggplant because it's both delicious and easy: just slice in half, drizzle on some olive oil, grind on some sea salt, and roast at 450 degrees for a half hour or so. The eggplants are done when the insides are soft when inserted with a knife. It's easy to separate the insides from the skin, unlike with peppers or tomatoes which are a little trickier. Then just add some stock (I use either homemade vegetable stock or chicken stock or a half-half mixture of the two) and blend.
Roasting garlic or onions to add to the soup is easy and great for achieving a rich, full-bodied taste. I put a few cloves of garlic on a square of foil, drizzle on a little olive oil, add salt, then close up the foil package, which protects the cloves from getting burned, and toss it on the roasting pan, next to the vegetables.
Yesterday's soup used two eggplants, maybe four cloves of garlic, a small can of stock and some of my own stock, and produced enough to generously feed four for just a few dollars. Not counting the roasting time, the whole process took less than 10 minutes. Add a salad and some nice, crusty bread, and you have an answer as to what's for dinner!
So versatile: add roasted garlic to mayonaise for a gourmet spread, blend with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and fresh herbs for a nice salad dressing, or spread directly on crackers. Roasting makes the garlic mild and sweet; you lose the stink factor.