Alex Caspero, MA, RD, CLT
Everyday Chef, Fruits & Veggies—More Matters
Whenever someone tells me that s/he doesn’t like vegetables, my follow up question is usually, have you ever tried them roasted? Roasting vegetables is unequivocally my favorite way to prepare vegetables and is a cooking technique that has prevented many clients from swearing off vegetables forever.
Why Roast? Slightly crisp vegetables are more flavorful than steamed vegetables.
Vegetables, like fruits, contain natural sugars that are intensified after roasting in the oven. When preparing vegetables this way, you are rewarded with caramelized, slightly crisp vegetables that are much more flavorful than steamed vegetables. To me, there is no comparison, and I’ve been known to make an entire meal from roasted cauliflower or green beans. And while roasted vegetables taste richer and more complex, the process couldn’t be easier. If you can boil water, you can make roasted vegetables.
I’m sharing with you a basic roasted vegetable recipe (below) that is highly customizable based on the ingredients. Swap out whatever in-season vegetable you like and get creative with the seasoning base! The possibilities are endless, but here are my favorite combinations:
- Broccoli and curry powder
- Cauliflower and za’atar
- Thinly sliced Brussels sprouts with garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper
- Zucchini with dried oregano, basil and thyme
How To Roast
To reduce the amount of oil used when roasting, I first cut all my vegetables into bite-size pieces. Because you are roasting, you want them to be as uniform in size as possible to ensure even cooking.
- After placing the cut vegetables into a large bowl, I drizzle on 1-2 tsp. of oil and use my hands to coat every piece. Just like tossing a salad, you’ll use less oil if you take the time to toss the vegetables and oil together in the bowl.
- Next, I sprinkle on whatever seasoning I am using along with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Then, I give it one last toss so that the seasonings are evenly distributed on the oiled vegetables.
- Now, place the vegetables in a single layer in either a roasting pan, baking stone or foil-lined cookie sheet. It’s important that the vegetables are arranged in a single layer so that they can crisp on all sides. If any of your vegetables pieces are layered, they will steam instead of roast. Depending on how small you chopped your vegetables or the number of servings you’re making, you might need 2-3 baking pans.
- Bake until veggies are lightly browned and tender, 25-60 minutes depending on the vegetable. I always check on my vegetables halfway through the cook time to make sure they haven’t dried out. If they are too dry, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of broth, juice, or dressing over the veggies.
Lastly, I always make at least double the vegetables I need. Leftovers are excellent in scrambled eggs (think roasted peppers and asparagus) or over salads for lunch. Cook once, eat twice!
Basic Roasted Vegetables
4 cups vegetables, chopped
1-2 tsp. oil
Seasonings of choice (dried rosemary, basil, parsley, curry powder, majoram, etc.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine vegetables and oil and toss until completely coated. Add in seasonings of choice (if using) and pinch salt/pepper.
Place on a baking pan, stone, or foil lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for 25-60 minutes, turning once during cooking.
Photo Credit: Alex Caspero