June 7, 2020

Roasting is The Best Way to Cook Vegetables

It's a hands-off way to cook that maximizes browning and makes vegetables delicous.

Roasted vegetables are hands down my favorite way to get my greens in. So while you can roast pork tenderloin or even peaches, today I’m going to talk about roasting vegetables.

I’m of the opinion that people who don’t like vegetables just haven’t had them roasted yet. So come on over to the charred side.

You just have to keep a few things in mind.

Keep it simple. And salty.

You just need salt and some form of fat (usually oil) to roast vegetables. Honestly, that’s it.

Well, I guess you’ll need a sheet pan. And having a big bowl for tossing them in oil and salt is nice. Oh! And a really hot oven! That’s important.

Okay, I lied. 😞 You do need a few more things.

Here’s the basic strategy you can use to roast just about any vegetable:

  1. Crank your oven up to over 450 degrees (you can play with higher or lower depending on your oven and the vegetable you’re cooking).
  2. Add your vegetable, salt, and oil in a large bowl and mix it together well. This makes sure every vegetable is covered in oil so it browns beautifully.
  3. Lay your vegetables out in an even layer on a sheet pan. Remember to not overcrowd them or they won’t brown properly.
  4. Cook them until they are starting to char.
  5. Then try not to eat them all directly out of the pan before dinner.

Yes, I know I didn’t tell you how long you need to cook them. But that will always depend on what vegetable you are cooking, how large the pieces, and how hot your oven is. Instead of waiting for a specific time, use your eyes to look for browning, your nose to smell for that delicious aroma (you’ll smell what I’m talking about), and a knife to see if they are cooked through.

Then when they start to look like they’re close, taste one to be sure! I start checking on my vegetables after about 8-12 minutes for more delicate ones like zucchini and about 20 minutes for thicker ones like chunks of sweet potato. In total, thicker vegetables could take up to 40 minutes or even an hour in total.

You also don’t want to stir your vegetables. Keeping the same side in contact with the hot pan for longer gives you that charred element. Sometimes you might want to flip your vegetables if they are thicker, but often I’ll just leave them on one side. Hey, we’re allowed to be a little lazy in the kitchen, right? 😉

And now we’ve got the basics. So let’s take it to the next level.

How thick is the vegetable?

Thicker veggies like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, or potatoes may need a head start before roasting. This ensures they are cooked all the way through before getting burnt.  ⁣

You can make sure your vegetables are roasted perfectly on the outside and tender on the inside by using a two-step cooking method. This could happen in different ways — like blanching them in water first — but I prefer doing a steamy roast instead.

What’s a steamy roast?

You still mix your vegetables with salt and oil first but then add a tablespoon or two of water to the sheet pan you’re using. Then cover your veggies with aluminum foil. Throw them in the hot oven for about 10-20 minutes (depending on how they thick your pieces are). Then remove the foil.

Why uncover them?

Adding water and then covering them allows you to utilize steam to your advantage. The steam will help the vegetables cook all the way through. However, that steam will also prevent your vegetables from browning and getting crispy. So you want to let the steam escape by removing the cover💨. Once exposed, the vegetables can work their way towards that beautiful char.

Okay, really no other seasoning?

No. You really don’t need anything else. By roasting them, you'll bring out some natural sweetness. And by making sure they are cooked perfectly (salt and oil help of course), you’ll let the unique flavor of the vegetable shine 🌟🥕🥔🍆🌟. Doubly so if you’re roasting something local and in season.

But if you want to add other flavors, go for it! The world is your oyster. Freshly ground spices. Red pepper flakes. Or one of my favorite techniques is to treat roasted vegetables like you would a salad and mix them with a vinaigrette after they come out of the oven.

Now get out there and roast some vegetables!

Where I learned this: Trying out recipes in How to Roast Everything by America’s Test Kitchen