Oven-Roasted Summer Squash
with Red Bell Pepper

Sometimes the side is the hardest part of the meal to put together. You've got your chicken roasting or marinating, your salad has crunchy, sweet, and healthy all mixed together, but what else? The old no-brainers, baked potatoes and rice pilaf, are give you more carbs than you're looking for, but what else can you do quickly and easily?

Sometimes you want something more than just another can of peas or steamed broccoli. I'm always trying to find a side that takes no time, but offers something a little special.

Roast your vegetables for an easy, hands-off preparation. If you've got the oven on already, this is a a no-brainer. I throw my veggies (summer squash, zucchini, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, peppers, maybe a couple of different kinds. Right now the summer vegetables are delightful, but as the weather turns cooler, remember that fall and winter vegetables roast especially well, and you don't mind having the oven on for a little extra warmth, either!) Toss with some onion, garlic (leave garlic and onion large and you can pull them out when you¡¦re done, or if you want some onion and garlic in every bite, mince them up), and/or fresh herbs (leave woody herbs whole, as they impart flavor, and you can just pull them out when you¡¦re done) for flavor (along with salt & pepper), and olive oil, butter, or canned broth for moisture and flavor. Stick them in the oven at whatever temperature it's on until they¡¦re done to your liking (my family likes them wilted, and I like them crisp-tender--we take turns having our way). Experiment with your favorites! I made Roasted Summer Squash with Red Peppers for a barbecue, and my guests loved it. I loved that it was easy and added great color and interest to a very easy meal.

When it's too hot for the oven, try them prepared the same way, but in a grill basket or wrapped in foil on the grill.

Oven-Roasted Summer Squash with Red Bell Peppers

5 medium summer squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 sprig thyme, whole
1 sprig rosemary, whole
2-3 leaves sage, julienned
cooking spray
crushed black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Combine vegetables and herbs in a baking dish (preferably a pretty casserole that can go straight to the table, one less dish to wash!). Spray vegetables lightly with cooking spray and toss.

Bake for 30 minutes or until summer squash is translucent; peppers should still have a little bite to them. Remove thyme and rosemary sprigs and serve. Eat Well, Live Well, Be Well!

Katie Habit of in home cooking Personal Chef Service (inhomecooking.net) prepares high-protein, low-fat meals for you to enjoy in your own home at the end of a long day.

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