How to Roast Vegetables – Tips & Techniques & A Master Recipe
This is one of my favorite how to pages from a Veggie Venture…ONE AT A TIME Mostly, we roast one vegetable at a time since it’s hard for more than one kind to finish cooking at the same time. Yes, with experience, it’s possible to combine vegetables, cooking a more-starchy vegetable a little longer than a less-starchy vegetable. While most use them as a side dish, others enjoy them like appetizers.
OVEN TEMPERATURE for ROASTING We roast vegetables at high temperature, 375 degrees on the low end and 500 degrees on the high end but typically 400F or 425F.
SAME SIZE While the oven preheats, prep the vegetables. Wash and trim the vegetables first, cutting off stems and tails, removing any blemishes, removing skins if appropriate. Then cut the vegetables into pieces roughly the same size. The smaller the pieces, the quicker the vegetables will roast; the larger, the longer.
SHRINKAGE Vegetables shrink when they’re roasted so you may want to allow for that. Here on A Veggie Venture, a pound of vegetables is expected to serve four. If the vegetables are roasted, a pound of vegetables makes four kinda-skimpy servings.
COAT EVENLY with OIL Toss the cut vegetables with olive oil in a bowl, really getting in there with a spatula or even your hands, making sure the pieces are coated on all sides. Save the uber-expensive, extra-virgin oils for salad dressings and drizzles; for roasting, any good quality oil will do. I allow a tablespoon of oil per pound of vegetables, it’s plenty, but some times splurge on a couple of tablespoons. Using more oil will shorten the cooking time and will create coveted crusty edges.
EXPERIMENT Olive oil is the standard, it’s easy to grab and reliable. But for flavors, experiment a little. Add a touch of toasted sesame oil. Use peanut oil grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or safflower oil. Just make sure the oil is fresh, if it tastes musty or stale, choose something else.
SHORTCUT NOT RECOMMENDED Some cooks use dribble oil directly over vegetables already in the baking pan. It works but you use more oil and much of it will be wasted and can burn onto the baking sheet, imparting a bitter burn taste to the vegetables. Besides, there’s something sensual about using your hands to rub oil over raw vegetables!
SEASONING A vegetable’s own natural and unadorned flavor will emerge when seasoned with just salt and pepper. For gentleness, use kosher salt or sea salt; for sharpness, use freshly ground pepper. But experiment with other seasonings too. Carrot is deepened with thyme, zucchini is brightened by lemon. Dried herbs are fine, preferable even.
VEGGIES + FRUIT? Again, play a little, adding in new textures, sweetness, shape, etc. I love to roast butternut squash with apples, either with fruity spices and maple syrup or plain with onion (scroll to the end of the photos for the “recipe”).
FIND A BAKING PAN Find a baking pan, preferably one with low sides so the heat can envelop the vegetables from three sides. Metal is best: if you put a cold glass or ceramic dish straight into a hot oven, it can shatter. If you only have glass or ceramic pan, place it in the oven while it preheats so that it warms up slowly. I use a quarter sheet pan lined with foil.
EASY CLEAN-UP For easy clean-up, line the baking pan with foil or a silicone mat. The sugar in some vegetables will really make a mess of bare pans.
NO CROWDING Arrange the oiled vegetables on the baking sheet, leaving space between the pieces so the oven’s heat can weave its way between.
SET THE CLOCK Roasted vegetables can be done as quickly as 30 minutes but larger and/or denser pieces will take an hour.
CHECK & TOSS About halfway through the roasting time, give the vegetables a quick toss, redistributing the pieces. After that, check and toss every five minutes or so, until they’re done.
GOLDEN DONE The vegetables are done when their centers are soft and creamy, their outside edges almost crisp and beginning to caramelize. Allow from 30 – 90 minutes, depending on the vegetable, how large it’s been cut and the oven temperature.
MASTER RECIPE for ROASTING VEGETABLES
While some cooks save roasted veg for special occasions and holidays, others use them as an everyday food. Children can make them. you can use one vegetable or a combination, which are very colorful.
1 pound vegetables
1 tablespoon olive oil (or more, to taste)
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. Wash the vegetables well under running water. Trim the vegetables, cutting away stems and roots and any rough edges. If needed, peel. Cut the vegetables into pieces of even size, smaller pieces for faster cooking, larger pieces for longer cooking. As they’re cut into pieces, collect in a big bowl. Add the oil and with your hands or a spatula, turn the vegetables several to many times to evenly coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper and turn again.
Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil or line with a silicone mat. Arrange the vegetables in a single even layer, separating the pieces to allow for airflow between.
Place in the oven, even if it’s not fully preheated. Roast for 30 – 60 minutes, checking halfway through to toss and check on doneness, after that checking every 5 minutes until done. The vegetables are done when they are cooked through, the centers soft and creamy and the outer edges golden and crispy.
Serve hot as a side dish. Save the leftovers for topping salads and tossing into soups. These taste really good.
Bernadette’s Herb Roasted Vegetables
2 ½ cups (½ inch thick) sliced zucchini
1 ½ cups (1 inch square) cut red bell pepper
1 ½ cups (½ inch thick) sliced yellow squash
1 cup (1 inch) cut green beans (about ¼ pound)
1 cup (½ inch thick) sliced carrot
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
Preheat over to 425˚
Place all ingredients in 13X9 inch baking dish Lined with foil if you like); stir well to coat.
Cover and bake at 425˚ for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Yield: 9 servings (serving size: about ¾ cup).