How, why you should roast vegetables

Friday, April 25, 2014, Vol. 38, No. 17

I love roasted vegetables. The flavor that comes about when roasting, as opposed to steaming or boiling, is completely different.

Take carrots or sweet potatoes, for instance. When you boil carrots or sweet potatoes in water, they taste exactly the same as if they were raw.

However, if you take those same two vegetables, cut them into bite-size pieces and stick them in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes or so, you’ll get an entirely different taste.

They come out of the oven all caramelly and sweet.

Plus, roasting vegetables is much healthier than boiling them, retaining more of the nutrients and vitamins. Placing vegetables in a pan of water, cooking them until tender, then tossing that water means you are tossing out some of the most nutritious parts of the vegetable.

If you haven’t played around much with roasting vegetables, then today is your lucky day because I’m going to cover a lot of information about different vegetables and how to roast them.

I got on the roasted vegetable kick back in 2005 while vacationing in the wild, wild west, and I’ve been roasting ever since. I don’t know, but maybe the cowboys first started this kick by grilling vegetables over the campfire. Well, who knows?

Last night, I took a chance at roasting some of my favorite vegetables, some of which I knew were risky at best with other family members.

While no one went back for seconds (except me), they did eat all that I had put on their plates. And everyone said they were good. However, sometimes I think I could serve dog food with gravy on the top, and hubby would say it was the best meal he’s ever had!

My choice of roasted vegetables: Brussels sprouts, zucchini, baby portabella mushrooms and Japanese eggplant.

I roasted them by cutting them into bite-size pieces, drizzling a garlic-infused olive oil over them, and then sprinkling them with a mixture of dried rosemary and oregano, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then I popped them in a 425-degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. They were really tasty.

So, if you’re thinking you or your family might not care for the vegetables I fixed, here are a few I know will be winners.

Also, once our weather gets halfway stable, these are great prepared on the grill, too.

If cooking inside, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line (or spray with olive oil) a 15 x 10 x 1 baking pan with foil, then coat the foil with nonstick spray. If cooking outside, use a grill pan or a disposable aluminum foil pan with holes poked in the bottom.

In a bowl, toss the vegetables of choice with olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, or other herbs as desired. I almost always use rosemary and oregano on any vegetables I roast or grill. Spread vegetables in single layer in baking pan. Roast as directed (or until they’re the way you like them), turning halfway through the cooking time.

  • Small redskin potatoes – Halve the potatoes, sprinkle with herbs, salt, and pepper, and roast for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Brussels sprouts – These little vegetables take on a sweet flavor when roasted. Trim, halve and roast for about 20 minutes. Drizzle with lemon or lime before serving.
  • Broccoli – Trim to within two inches of the floret and roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and top with shaved Parmesan or crumbled feta cheese before serving.
  • Yellow and zucchini squash – Either cut into rounds or slice length-wise, season accordingly and sprinkle with Parmesan. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Mushrooms – Sprinkle thick slices with spices or herbs of your choice and grill or roast 15 minutes. (I like to combine sliced mushrooms, sliced summer and zucchini squash and Vidalia onions with some Cavender’s salt-free seasonings before grilling.)
  • Carrots – Peel and halve, or cut into rounds, and roast for 20 to 25 minutes. Toss with a bit of honey, a half teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, and about a half cup of walnuts.
  • Sweet potatoes – Peel, cut into bite-size pieces or slice into 1/2-inch planks, sprinkle with fresh thyme and roast for about 20 minutes.
  • Onions – Slice into wedges and roast about 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and Gorgonzola cheese. Sweet, roasted Vidalia onions are delicious.
  • Asparagus – Snap off the woody ends, cut into three- to four-inch pieces, sprinkle with minced garlic and herbs and roast for about 15 minutes.
  • Tomatoes – Slice into thick slices, sprinkle with salt, pepper and your herbs of choice, top with grated Parmesan and roast for about 15 minutes.