Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tips for perfecting roasted veggies

Roasted vegetables are an excellent addition to any traditional Thanksgiving dinner - or any meal for that matter! This is my absolute favorite way to eat my veggies. I love the way a little time in the oven concentrates their flavor and their natural sugars caramelize. Here are some tips to master this cooking technique….

  • Most recipes call for a temperature between 375 and 450. I have found the middle at 400 to be just right for my convection oven. It is important to have the oven completely heated before adding your vegetables.
  • Chop your veggies to be be uniform in size otherwise they won't cook evenly. 1 inch chunks work best me. Bigger chunks = longer roast time, smaller chunks = shorter roast time
  • Spread the veggies in a single layer and give the vegetables plenty of space on the tray because air is what will help it caramelize. If you pile on too many veggies, they'll steam instead and get mushy.
  • Lightly coat the veggies with olive oil - for every 2 pound of veggies, toss with 1 tablespoon (remember each TBS has 100 calories, so don't go overboard!). I put them in a bowl and use my hands to make sure they are completely covered. Many cooks love a Misto sprayer, but I haven't had much luck with them.
  • I prefer to season with salt and pepper only - sometimes I like to add fresh rosemary.
  • You can roast different vegetables together if their roasting times are similar. Denser root veggies like carrots, potatoes, butternut squash take 30-40 minutes, so I put them in first. After they've been in the oven for about 10-15 minutes I'll add my cauliflower and onion which takes about 20 minutes. Then for the last 10 minutes I throw in some garlic, which are notorious for burning in our household. The Heal With Food blog lists roasting times for every vegetable imaginable and has been a great reference for me.
    • 10-15 minutes: asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, okra, yellow summer squash, zucchini
    • 15-20 minutes: brussel sprouts, 1/2 inch carrots, green beans, mushrooms, parsnips, radishes, shallots, zucchini
    • 20-30 minutes: artichokes, 1 inch carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, onions, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, turnips
    • 30-40 minutes: butternut squash, potatoes
  • Give the veggies a turn with a wooden spoon about every ten minutes.
For a delicious, healthy dinner I love to put my roasted veggies over quinoa (cooked in vegetable broth) drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar - I eat this once a week.

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