Bethany and I had a great response from the participants in both of our cooking demonstrations last month at Cancer Support Community/Atlanta. We presented “Simple and Gourmet Vegetable Side Dishes”. Each recipe highlighted a vegetable and a cooking technique.
One of my favorite ways of cooking vegetable is roasting, especially during the fall and winter months. Roasting imparts a rich and intense flavor to almost any vegetable. It concentrates the flavors of the vegetable and adds sweetness through caramelization. During the class at Cancer Support Community, we demonstrated how to roast butternut squash, but there are many other types of vegetables that can be roasted. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, beets… just to name a few!
Want to get your roast on? Try these 10 tips:
- Cut vegetables into even sizes to ensure that they cook at the same rate.
- Toss vegetables with just enough oil to coat them – you don’t want them to be swimming in oil. The oil will help the vegetables to brown evenly and protect them from drying out. If the vegetable doesn’t have enough oil it will come out dry with spotty browning.
- For simple seasoning, just use salt and pepper.
- Evaluate your oven. It’s temperature can be off by as much as 50 degrees! Vegetables that are smaller and tenderer should be roasted at higher temperatures because they will take less time to cook through. Larger and harder vegetables should be roasted at a lower temperature to prevent burning before the vegetable is cooked through. Vegetables that have high water content (like tomatoes) can be roasted at a low temperature for a long time (about 250°F).
- Cook vegetables on a baking sheet that is heavy and sturdy. Avoid baking sheets that are flimsy because they will warp in the oven.
- For easy clean-up, spread the vegetables out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- Avoid overcrowding vegetables on the pan. Place them in a single layer. This will allow the steam to escape and the air to circulate.
- The cooking time will vary based on the type of vegetable, the size, your preference for doneness and your ovens actual temperature.
- Turn the vegetables if they are larger or harder and move them from the outside of the pan to the center. This will ensure even browning.
- To check for doneness, insert a knife or a fork into the vegetable. It should slide in and out with little resistance.
Roasted vegetables are a great side dish. They can also be added to stews, risotto, sauces and used as a sandwich topping. What is your favorite vegetable to roast?