How to Roast Vegetables

Know Your Techniques: Roasting Vegetables

Looking for a quick, easy, and enticing way to incorporate more vegetables into your life? Roasting may very well be just the solution you need. Not only does the blast of high heat cook vegetables to fork-tender in next to no time, but it also magically caramelizes the edges, making each bite slightly sweet and all the more enticing.

Little more than a bit of prep work and roughly 20-30 minutes of cook time separates your meal from the addition of a brightly colored, mouth-watering, and rather healthy side. And while methods vary slightly from vegetable to vegetable, follow these general guidelines:

  1. Preheat the oven: Aside from tomatoes and other delicate produce, which shine when slow-roasted at a lower temperature (try 200°F), most vegetables benefit from a blast of high heat, as it promotes browning and caramelization; generally, 400-450°F is a good place to start.
  2. Prep the vegetables: Usually this just means a quick scrub with a vegetable brush and a rough chop (1-inch cubes is pretty standard), but some produce like Winter squash requires a bit of peeling and even the removal of seeds but is still very easy to prep. For oddballs like brussels sprouts, trim off the woody stems, peel away any dried-out and tough outer leaves and halve the tiny cabbages so that they have a flat surface to rest on (flat surfaces allow the most pan contact and browning). Smaller root vegetables like carrots can be left whole (just trim off excess carrot tops).
  3. Season the vegetables: The easiest way to do this is to drizzle a half-sheet pan or cast-iron skillet with a healthy helping of high-heat-safe oil (like grapeseed or canola) and toss the vegetables in the oil right on the pan; this also helps to grease the pan so that the vegetables won't stick. Afterward, generously sprinkle the whole lot with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (or any seasonings you choose to incorporate), tossing once more to coat. Also, make sure to spread everything out in a single even layer so as to promote even cooking and browning.
  4. Jazz things up (optional): A few sprigs of hearty herbs like thyme or rosemary can be tucked in whole or minced and sprinkled on with the salt and pepper. Alternatively, try adding a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Just make sure to line the sheet pan with parchment paper so that the sugars won't burn and stick to the pan. To ensure that the sweetener at hand evenly coats the vegetables, toss everything together in a large bowl and then spread out on the pan.
  5. Roast away: This will depend greatly on the density of your vegetable, the size of the pieces, and how hot you choose to heat your oven, but most will be ready to eat in about 20-25 minutes, with tougher varieties like Winter squash requiring up to 40 minutes. When trying out this method, use common sense and check often; the vegetables are done and ready to eat when they're fork-tender and have begun to brown.
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