There are many reasons to love roasted vegetables. For me, it converted Brooke my younger daughter, from a veggie-rejecter to a veggie-accepter. Not surprising, roasting draws out the sugar in vegetables and brings out their sweetness making it a delicious and low calorie technique to prepare vegetables. Roasting is a great alternative to steaming vegetables when you want your vegetables to have a crisp texture and caramelized flavor. If you haven’t tried roasting vegetables for you and your family, try it. It couldn’t be easier. For a simple and delicious recipe try my Kitchen Sink Roasted Vegetables or use the tips and tricks below to roast whatever veggies you happen to have on hand.
Tips and Tricks of Roasting Veggies
- Easy Clean Up — Line your cooking sheet with aluminum foil or a silicon mat for easy clean up.
- Uniform Size — Cutting your vegetables into uniform sized pieces is important so that all of the vegetables cook at the same rate.
- Oven Temperature — The oven temperature to roast vegetables can range between 375°-500°. However, 425°-450° is the standard.
- Save Time — While the oven preheats, prep vegetables. Wash and trim vegetables, cut off the stems and tails, and remove blemishes, bruises and skins when appropriate.
- Reduction In Size — Due to water loss vegetables shrink in size when they are roasted. I plan on having at least 1 ½ pounds of vegetables to serve four people as a side dish. If I have too much I can always use the leftovers in a salad or on top of a pizza.
- Using Spray — Spray the cookie sheet or the aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray since the vegetables tend to release sugar and stick to the surface. Use nonstick cooking spray on top of the vegetables before and after seasoning the vegetables as well. This is a calorie-free replacement for oil. If using a silicon mat, nonstick cooking spray isn’t necessary to prevent sticking.
- Using Oil — If you want to use oil, do so sparingly. Only 1 tablespoon per 1 pound of vegetables is necessary. Toss the vegetables in a bowl and swish the vegetables very well to coat them with the oil. This is best done with your hands and is a great way to get the kids involved. I know it is tempting to want to drizzle the oil directly onto the vegetables on the pan and save the trouble having the clean an extra bowl. But please go to the trouble of taking this extra step if using oil. If you drizzle oil directly onto the vegetable you will not only use more than you need but you will also get oil on the cookie sheet or the foil causing it to burn and impart a bitter taste to the vegetables. Another note on oil, one tablespoon of oil has 120 calories. It may not sound like much but it does add up if you are not careful and you are one to mindlessly chomp on vegetables.
- Seasoning — Roasting vegetables doesn’t require much in the seasoning department. Just a little kosher or sea salt is all it takes. However, don’t be afraid to experiment with your favorite seasonings. I find this is one place that dried seasonings are superior to fresh. Below are a few of my family’s favorite vegetables and the seasonings I find work best when cooking them:
- Artichokes: Parsley or Paprika
- Asparagus: Rosemary
- Broccoli: Sage, Thyme, Oregano, or Garlic
- Cauliflower: Basil or Oregano
- Green Beans: Garlic
- Onions: Garlic, Sage, or Basil
- Potatoes: Garlic, Paprika, Rosemary, or Thyme
- Zucchini: Garlic, Basil or Lemon
- Set The Timer — The time it takes to roast vegetables varies depending on the size and density of the vegetable. A thin vegetable such as green beans may take 15 minutes to roast whereas a starchy vegetable like a turnip can take 60 minutes. Vegetables that are cut larger will also take more time to cook.
- They Need Their Space — Vegetables need room when roasting. You don’t want to overcrowd vegetables or have the vegetables touch each other, otherwise they will steam. But you also don’t want too much space between them otherwise they can burn. Make sure the vegetables have enough room that they fit nicely in a single layer in your cookie sheet. If I am roasting a variety of vegetables for a crowd I put each vegetable on a separate pan. This allows me to space them out and to remove the vegetables that have shorter cooking time.
- Toss — Halfway through the cooking time give the veggies a quick toss with a spatula, rearranging the pieces of again so that they are spaced apart and not touching. Check and shuffle every 5 minutes or so until they are finished.
- Golden Finish — The vegetables are finished when their centers are soft and their outsides are almost crisp and beginning to caramelize. They should not be charred. Allow for 15-60 minutes depending on the vegetable, how large it has been cut and the oven temperature.
General Instructions for Roasting Vegetables:
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet spray with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cut the vegetables into uniform sized pieces or chunks for even cooking.
- Spread the vegetables on the pan in a single layer and spray the vegetables with nonstick cooking spray.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with seasoning of choice such as rosemary, parsley, basil, garlic, salt and pepper and spray the vegetables once again with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bake until browned in areas and tender in the center—tenderness can be determined by piercing with a knife. This can take anywhere between 15-60 minutes depending on the vegetable you are cooking. If the vegetables are drying out drizzle the vegetables with vegetable broth, apple juice or low-fat vinegar based salad dressing.
- Flip over with a spatula and continue to cook the vegetables for an additional 15-30 minutes, until the edges are browned.
- Remove from cookie sheet and serve or use in any recipe that calls for roasted vegetables.