How to Roast Vegetables

It has turned cold and wintry here this week. The wind is whipping the leaves off the trees, and when I walked my dog this morning, I had to break out my hat and gloves. I expect we’ll have a few more days of this and then we’ll get our Indian summer, which is the bonus we get for living in North Carolina. Until then, though, we’ll warm our tummies with roasted vegetables.

Roasting is a great method because it is low in fat but high in flavor. The sugars in the food caramelize, turning vegetables into candy. I like to use this method for two kinds of vegetables: those with a lot of water, as the dry heat draws out the moisture and intensifies the flavor; and firm vegetables, which become sweet and tender after a slow roasting. In the first category are asparagus, eggplant, mushrooms, summer squash and zucchini. In the second are carrots, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash.

Recently, at the exhortation of Cook’s Illustrated, I tried roasting green beans. They came out shriveled and ugly, but they tasted so sweet. We gobbled them right up. This only goes to show that every now and then you’ve got to try an old method on a new ingredient and see what happens.

Here’s the standard guide for roasting vegetables:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  2. Cut your vegetables into fairly large pieces, cubes or chunks or thick slices
  3. Toss the vegetables with a little oil
  4. Spread the vegetables out on a baking sheet (covered with aluminum foil for easier clean-up) and put them in the oven
  5. About halfway through the cooking time, shake the pan to redistribute the food or turn each piece over, if you’re the patient sort
  6. This is a good time to add seasoning or herbs, which may burn if added at the beginning of the cooking time.

  7. They’re done when they are browned and tender

The only variation to this method is the time each kind of vegetable needs to roast, which is something you learn as you go along. Just keep checking and use your common sense. Firmer vegetables need longer to cook, while thinner vegetables like green beans and asparagus will require only 15 minutes or so. If you’re roasting a lot of vegetables together, which is a very simple and good side dish for any meal, you may have to add them at different times to get them all to come out done together.

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7 thoughts on “How to Roast Vegetables

  1. [...] a while, you start craving some really fresh veggies. I’ve been wanting to make salads and simply cooked fresh vegetables, such as asparagus with a sauce Gribiche. Speaking of asparagus, nothing beats the combination of [...]

  2. Winter is officially here « Blog, by Shannon 11 November 2009 at 1:57 pm

    [...] It’s perfect weather for roasting vegetables. There’s a post on my cooking blog that explains how. [...]

  3. Cindi @ Moomette's Magnificents 16 May 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Definitely going to try roasting more vegetables this summer, and tossing them into salads, or use with chicken or other meats for a light dinner.

  4. [...] Eggplant: grill or roast [...]

  5. [...] for everything from lasagna to a simple tomato sauce for pasta, from roasted chicken breasts and vegetables to stir-fry, from sour cream dip to sorbet. I hope whatever you choose to make to celebrate the new [...]

  6. [...] I found for pan-roasting boneless chicken breasts — fast, easy and great results ever time. Roasted vegetables and cornbread are also popular as the weather cools down. That sounds like a great menu right [...]

  7. Turn Leftovers Into Soup | Simply Cooking 6 November 2011 at 1:33 pm

    [...] I did was simmer the cooked vegetables with some stock to cover for about 10-15 minutes. Roasted and braised vegetables seem to work best, but any veggies will do. If the vegetables get too soft [...]

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