How-To: Roast Any Vegetable

Posted: Nov 10 2016

 

Mastering a few key techniques in the kitchen is necessary for building confidence and comfortability. Roasting is one of those essentials and, specifically, understanding how to roast just about any vegetable means you'll almost certainly reduce waste in the kitchen and have healthy sides dishes ready and accessible. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For more delicate vegetables you could reduce to 375 but just about everything can be roasted at 400 with satisfying results. This guarantees tips and edges will begin to caramelize and crisp.

You'll need some fresh produce. Just about anything in season at your local farmers market or grocery is game for roasting from carrots and potatoes, to kale and cabbage, to peaches and apples. Rinse and dry veg, then cut into chunks. Think about size and moisture content here -- denser vegetables with need more time to cook through, while more tender or leafy veg will cook faster and release more water. 

Next, you can either prep the veg in a large bowl or directly on a sheet pan. If you are roasting more than one vegetable, perhaps separately or side by side, a bowl works well and ensures even coverage with your oil or fat. Add your vegetable to a bowl, drizzle over 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil for just about every pound of produce, add 1 teaspoon sea salt and stir well to combine. Having an all-purpose seasoning salt, such as Omnivore Salt made with organic, dried spices and a bit of ground chile, makes for one less decision. It's useful in just about every savor roasting preparation and you can use less to season your vegetables because of the flavor boosting spices. 

Spread your vegetables on a large sheet pan, not too tightly crowded or the vegetables will steam instead of roast. Use a second sheet pan if needed. Cook time will depend on your selection of veg, but can be anywhere from 5-8 minutes (kale, asparagus, green beans) to 25 minutes (stone fruit, broccoli, cabbage) to 35 minutes (beets, potatoes, hard winter squash). Check your vegetables for doneness as they cook, but piercing lightly with a knife -- when fork tender and browned on the edges you'll know they're done. For longer roasting vegetables, you many want to stir or turn the halfway through cooking, but not more than once or you may not achieve those deliciously crunchy bits. 

Let cool on your sheet pan for a couple of minutes before serving. Feel free to squeeze over some lemon juice, shower with citrus zest or grated parmesan or even a sprinkle of crunchy, seasoned bread crumbs. Roasted vegetables are wonderful as a side to grilled or braised meats, as a main with quinoa, rice or beans, or as a filling for tacos, quiche. They can be pureed into soups with hot stock or enjoyed as a snack with hummus, eaten warm or cold.

The point of this technique is to embrace the versatility and flexibility of roasting vegetables. And when your fresh produce starts to look like it's heading downhill fast, you'll be confident in your roasting routine. Save money, eat well, reduce food waste!

 

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