Everyone knows vegetables are good for you, but they’re even more beneficial than most people realize. Increased fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with dramatically lower rates of both cardiovascular disease and cancer. And people who eat the most vegetables are also likely to enjoy a variety of health benefits. Yet only around one in four people eat the amount of produce recommended by leading nutrition advisory boards. So if you want to dramatically improve your diet, one of the wisest moves is to eat plenty of vegetables. So the question becomes: what’s the best way to prepare vegetables? When it comes to convenience and flavor, roasted vegetables are impossible to beat.
Roasting vegetables is a fundamental cooking skill that you can learn in minutes. You can master the technique on your very first try, and produce results as good as a world class chef.
There’s something magical about sliding a baking sheet of chopped raw vegetables into the oven, then coming back twenty minutes later and pulling out a fragrant, sizzling, perfectly-cooked assortment of roasted veggies. Roasted vegetables are great year-round but ideal for the cold winter months. On a frigid day, nothing is more satisfying than oven-roasted winter squash, parsnips, turnips, and other mainstay winter root vegetables.
What You’ll Need:
- Chef’s Knife
- Cutting Board
- Mixing Bowl
- Baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
- Vegetables (obviously)
- Olive oil
- Italian seasoning, pepper, and salt
Choose four or five vegetables. Try to get as many colors as possible. Some great choices are eggplant, potatoes, peppers of various colors, broccoli florets, and onions.
Preheat your oven to 215° C (425° F). Thoroughly rinse your vegetables, then chop into pieces a bit larger than bite-sized. They’ll shrink to the perfect size during roasting. If you are including broccoli or cauliflower, use a paring knife to remove the skin from the stems leading to the florets.
Now put all your chopped vegetables into a mixing bowl and add some olive oil, Italian herb seasoning, and salt. Mix everything to thoroughly coat the vegetables in oil.
If your vegetables include eggplant, hard squash, or root vegetables like potatoes or carrots, load them in a single layer onto your baking sheet and put them in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Then flip them over and add your remaining vegetables to the sheet, and bake another 10 to 20 minutes.
Alternately, if you’re not using any of the above coarse vegetables, just cook everything you have for 15 or 20 minutes, flipping vegetables midway through for best results.
Although roasting vegetables is one of the simplest possible ways to prepare food, consistently getting outstanding results does require attention. The path is exactly the same as that required to master stir-fries. In both cases, you need to engage all your senses with the finished product, so that next time around you can step up your game. How does it smell, taste, and look? Is the texture a little overcooked, under-cooked, or is it just right? Even the sound of your sizzling vegetables conveys important information. Over time you will become attuned to these subtle qualities, and zero in on perfection.
That’s all there is to it—you are now officially an expert at roasting vegetables. My final piece of advice is to not let yourself fall into a rut by roasting the same vegetables every time. Whenever possible, include vegetables hitting their peak of season, and always go for something new. As with salads and stir-fries, try to get as many different colored vegetables as possible into each batch. If you constantly change things up, you could eat roasted vegetables every day without it ever becoming monotonous.
- Are you a garlic lover? If so, and you’re roasting eggplant, hard squash, or roots, those vegetables need enough time in the oven that you can also roast garlic simultaneously. Roasted garlic has a remarkably mellow flavor and a wonderfully rich texture. After removing the skin, you can eat the cloves whole, or mash them and mix with olive oil as a sensational spread for French baguettes and other breads.
- Italian herb seasoning mixes are a popular choice for roasting vegetables, but almost any other spice mix will produce excellent results. Experimenting with different seasonings will radically change up the flavors of your roasted vegetables.
- Another way to jazz things up is to put all your veggies back into the mixing bowl after roasting and add a few squirts of balsamic vinegar along with some freshly-ground black pepper. Give everything a final mix to coat the vegetables and then serve.
- Brussels sprouts often get a bad rap, but that’s because few people know how to prepare them well. They’re among the most delicious of roasted vegetables. After rinsing, cut each in half, mix with a coating of olive oil and coarsely-chopped hazelnuts, then roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning midway through. Add some freshly-ground black pepper before serving.
- For added protein, add a few cubes of tofu that were marinated in tamari.
Once you master roasting vegetables, don’t forget that salads and stir-fries are equally excellent meals. Getting into the habit of eating these foods on a daily basis is a sure-fire way to reap all the rewards that a vegetable-filled diet has to offer.