Meatless Monday Inspiration: Your 3-Step Guide to Perfect Roasted Vegetables
More seasoned home cooks in the crowd can probably skip this post and get straight to work on the Summer Hair Challenge. Go on! We’re working on ours.
But for those of you who maybe didn’t use the kitchen until you left Moms, or only discovered vegetables in your thirties (paging my husband on both!), these tips will serve you well.
Ever been to a really amazing Italian restaurant and wondered how they get those simple veggie sides tasting so good? Or maybe you’ve had the experience of perfectly-browned brussel sprouts that turned disdain to devotion in a single bite? Well I have one word for you, and that word is: roasting.
The following method is great for most vegetables but especially the brassica family—like brussels, cauliflower, broccoli and even kale (hello kale chips!)—because they hold up so well to heat. One note: Stick to one vegetable at a time for the sake of simplicity and because combining these types of vegetables can result in tummy troubles for some. So, here goes: the super simple technique that will change your life as a vegetable eater.
1. Olive oil. Once you’ve cut your vegetable to a desired size—know that the pieces will shrink somewhat as they lose their water during roasting—toss them in a decent amount of olive oil. Let’s say about two tbsp for a small head of cauliflower, maybe a little more. If you’re using brussel sprouts, cut them in half. Do the tossing in a bowl with your (clean) hands so that you are certain that each piece is generously covered. Now…
2. Salt. Don’t be afraid of it, and use the good stuff if you’ve got it. When you can’t believe how good vegetables taste at your favorite restaurant, the answer is often salt. We’re told to watch our sodium intake, and for good reason: Most processed foods are ridiculously high in the stuff. But if you generally avoid those foods don’t be afraid of seasoning at home—it’s actually really hard to exceed your daily sodium limit with a salt shaker and whole ingredients (like vegetables!). So salt and toss. Pepper’s good too. And then place your veggies in a single layer on either a pyrex (covered in tin foil to avoid stick and damage) or some kind of sheet pan (nonstick makes things extra easy, though that’s probably thanks to chemicals?). If you’re using brussels, place them flat side down.
3. Oven. You have a few choices when it comes to temperature. EVOO’s smoke point is 405°F, so if you’re concerned about retaining nutrients set your oven a little below that. This is still still plenty high and will get those suckers browned. Sometimes when I’m in a rush though, or after something really crispy, I throw caution to the wind and finish my veggies under the broiler. At around 400, depending on the size of your cut, roasting will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes for anything other than kale. Kale crisps up very quickly so keep an eye on it. After 15-20 minutes, check your veggies and give them a good toss. You will be able to tell if they’re ready just by looking at them. When they start reminding you of french fries you’re done. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Or, take it to next level…Getting fancy: These will be delicious as is, but there are ways to mix it up. There are things you can add to these roasted vegetables and never go wrong (warning: not all suggestions vegan) like a squeeze of lemon, a little more olive oil, a pad of butter (this gives a real yummy richness), parmesan cheese, bacon (that’s been cooked and crumbled separately), some chili flakes, a little balsamic vinegar, some greek yogurt and garlic for dipping, or any favorite homemade vinaigrette. Added bonus if you’re feeding others: Kids, fussy friends, and even super picky manchildren, will love vegetables done this way. Whenever I make vegetables like this for others, they get way more praise than the more complicated items on the table. Not that we cook for compliments. ;)
Are you an oven roaster? What tricks to you have when cooking vegetables? Image via