You want to try roasting but you feel intimidated. Or perhaps your last attempt left you with a pan full of burnt carrots that even a scouring pad couldn’t fix. If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. Roasting is the quintessential fall cooking technique, and in this lesson, I’m going to share all my tricks of the trade!
In the fall season root vegetables become more abundant. While in summer we tend to eat raw or lightly-cooked veggies such as lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes, cold-weather produce is typically firmer and denser (think potatoes, butternut squash, turnips.) This is nature’s way of telling us it’s time to eat more solid, warming meals to keep us healthy and strong over the cooler months. But their firm and dense qualities require more heat-based cooking to make them palatable.
To roast is to cook food by surrounding it with hot, dry air. This can be done in an oven or on a spit over an open fire (today we’ll stick to ovens). Here, I provide my 4 simple steps to ensure delicious roasting results. Once mastered, you’ll find that roasting is an easy way to prepare a tasty and colorful side dish or use up leftover veggies.
- Take Root. Many vegetables roast well, but I like to choose hearty, roots—such as carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams and squash—as they can withstand higher cooking temperatures and generally roast to perfection in the same amount of time as each other. Roasting also intensifies their natural flavors and sweetness, which can help curb sugar cravings. Keep in mind that green-hued vegetables like green beans and broccoli tend to turn an unattractive olive green color, and green beans also tend to shrivel when roasted, making them less than optimal for this style of cooking.
- Peel It Up. Peel tough-skinned veggies, such as butternut squash and parsnips, and leave lighter skins (like white potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots) The lighter skinned vegetables just need a good wash.
- Chop, Chop. Chop all of your vegetables into uniform pieces for even cooking. Your veggies will shrink a bit as they roast, so aim for 1-1 ¼” chunks.
- Dress to Impress. In a large bowl, coat the veggies with about 2 teaspoons of olive or coconut oil per 1 cup of chopped vegetables. They should look glossy, not greasy!
- ‘Tis the Season. Season with plenty of salt, pepper, and any other dried or fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or dried oregano. Toss well.
- Apply Heat. Spread the veggies on a baking sheet in a single layer. (Use two sheets if necessary, and rotate them halfway through the cooking process.) Roast at 400° for 30-45 minutes or until tender and golden. Cooking times may vary depending on the type and size of the vegetables.