Tired of Bland Vegetables?
Enhance the Flavor by Roasting Them
Something about the smell of roasting vegetables filling your home makes even the most vegetable adverse person say, “Something smells good!”
My kitchen is often filled with the aroma of herbs and vegetables baking in the oven. It is a simple and tasteful way to use up the vegetables in your crisping drawer. It is also a way to fall in love with vegetables you never thought you liked.
When I began regularly roasting them, I discovered I did indeed love cooked carrots, turnips, and even beets. I was also surprised by the flavor of roasted radishes and rutabagas. Those cooked bits of glory can improve recipes like mashed potatoes, vegan mayonnaise, or even soup. The time in the oven seems to enhance the flavor of almost every vegetable I have tried.
Roasting can be as simple as sprinkling some salt and pepper over your vegetables, or you can try adding different spices, herbs, balsamic vinegar, oils, or a combination of all of them. Fresh vegetables are best, but next time you see your carrots starting to wilt and don’t feel like making soup, try roasting them instead.
Tips for making great roasted vegetables:
Get your oven hot.
I usually roast my vegetables at 400 degrees Fahrenheit in a convection oven (425 degrees Fahrenheit in a conventional stove) for about 20 minutes. If you are new to roasting, check the vegetables at around the 10 to 15-minute mark. Time will vary depending on the size and density of your vegetables. Some softer vegetables, like asparagus, benefit from a higher cooking temperature such as 425 degrees Fahrenheit in a convection oven.
Line the pan with parchment paper.
Save yourself time and start using unbleached parchment paper. You never have to worry about the vegetables sticking to the bottom of the pan. This saves on the cleanup process and keeps your food looking presentable on the plate.
Roast on top of fresh herbs.
Fresh herbs bring much flavor to the table, and using them with roasted vegetables is no exception. My favorite combination is rosemary, thyme, and sage. Keep the leaves on the stems and place a good amount on the bottom of the pan. Crush a few cloves of garlic in their skin and set them around the pan, too.
To season or not to season.
You can roast vegetables with no oil or seasoning at all, and they will still have a great taste. If you want to bring out more flavor, I suggest tossing them in a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil and sprinkle with grey sea salt and ground pepper. I also love adding smoked paprika to things like potatoes.
You do not need to cover the pan.
Unless you want a steamed vegetable, there is no reason to cover them while they are roasting. You will also get a steam-roasted vegetable if you use a pan with high sides or pack your vegetables to close together. Instead, use a rimmed baking sheet and stick with one kind of vegetable, spread evenly and spaciously across the pan.
It is also helpful to choose vegetables around the same size when roasting whole or to cut them into the same size. They not only look pretty, but it also prevents some vegetables from being overcooked while the larger pieces are undercooked.
Flip halfway through.
Flipping the vegetables halfway through will also ensure a more evenly cooked result. Whatever touches the pan will get darker than the parts exposed to air.
With these basic tips, you can start exploring the flavor-enhancing world of roasted vegetables.
This article was originally published in The Chews Letter, vol. 1, issue no. 1.
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Lisa is the owner and creative director of The Chews Letter magazine. Her goal is to bring people together through the breaking of bread where stories and traditions can be shared with all our fellow humans. Her work can be seen in past publications of Designer Original, Ocala Style, The Villages Magazine, and Grandparents Magazine.