Cooking at home more these days? Many are, some for the very first time. If you’re in need of some rudimentary food prepping skills, try this basic technique for creating simple, healthy (delicious) meals: roasting vegetables.
Roasting: It's What's For Dinner
If you love ordering those deliciously caramelized, crispy Brussels sprouts, parmesan cauliflower, or garlic broccoli from the restaurant down the street but have never made them yourself, now’s your chance to make your own and see just how easy it is.
The secret to the addicting flavor of roasted food is in the natural sugars. Dry-heat cooking vegetables (either by roasting, grilling, or frying) results in a release of the natural sugars (yes, sugars!) in veggies. It’s a very particular caramelization reaction that occurs when there’s no water present and makes for great texture and flavor.
You need very little equipment to roast vegetables indoors. If you have a sheet pan and a rack that fits in the sheet pan -- like a cookie cooling rack -- you can roast vegetables on par with your favorite restaurant. Place a sheet of parchment on the bottom of the pan to make the cleanup easier (foil also works).
Which Vegetables Are Best for Roasting?
Just about any root vegetable will turn to crispy, brown, tantalizing garden gems with just a thin coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. The same goes for the more dense vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
To make sure all the vegetables are ready for dinner at the same time, roast vegetables of similar size and weight together. I opt for the darker, crispier ones, so I leave them roasting until they have crispy, dark, toasty edges and softer middles.
The key to all of this is letting the vegetable roast slowly at 325° -- the classic roasting temperature. Going any higher in temperature usually results in a browning of the outside before the inside has cooked through -- it will be rawer in both taste and texture.
While I’m not a fan of carrots in general, roasting baby carrots with the tops will definitely get me to eat the vegetable (major hack for parents trying to get your kids to eat them!). Roast them whole, and you’ll get a super (naturally) sweet and savory finished product.
My absolute favorite roasting staple, though, are the Brussels sprouts. Cut them in half and roast them cut-side down until the edges brown and curl.
Any kind of squash can be easily roasted when sliced or cut into cubes and lightly coated with olive oil, salt, and fresh or dried herbs. A personal favorite: delicata squash (usually available in grocery stores during fall and winter months). Not only does it have a rich, creamy, sweet flavor, it’s one of the easiest to prepare in the squash family.
Roasting Your Vegetables In The Oven
Once in the oven, keep the food elevated so that the hot air circulates around it. Make sure every surface of the vegetable is glazed with olive oil so that no moisture escapes.
Add slices and pieces of garlic, onion, and lemon to add more flavor and zest.
Then, leave in the oven to cook for 45-60 minutes. The exact timing will depend on the size and weight of the vegetables.
Insert a small knife in the center to see if the vegetables are done. If the knife goes in as easily and softly (like butter) and the outside is crisp and browned, they’re done. Pull the vegetables out from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes on the rack.
Eat them plain (yes, all you need is olive oil and salt!) and they’re delectable. But you can change things up by brushing on a bright vinaigrette or sprinkling some fresh spices or herbs for even more mind-blowing flavor.
Once you start roasting vegetables at home, you’ll never look back. It’s something so basic, yet unequivocally nutritious and delightful! Enjoy!