I had my introduction to roasted vegetables in a small Armenian restaurant in Fresno. We ordered a salad piled with roasted veggies and drizzled with olive oil vinaigrette and fresh parsley. When the salad was gone I wanted to lick the plate. The vegetables were room temperature but you could tell they had been roasted that day and were still giving off some of that roasted aroma that can drive you straight to the dining table.
I am not the only one: roasted vegetables is the new craze and there is a good reason: we all need to eat more vegetables. We want them to be easy and tasty as well. Roasted vegetables meet the mark. When vegetables cook at a high heat, some of the moisture is evaporated and the flavors in the roasted vegetable itself is much more highly intensified. If the vegetables have sugar in them, the high heat will cause them to caramelize slightly, making the roasted vegetables a bit sweeter still.
Since that eventful day we have experimented with roasting vegetables of various sorts. Always push the envelope. You never know what great discovery is around the next bend. Try different oils and different herbs and spices with any given vegetable. No matter how stunning eggplant is roasted in garlic oil, it can get a bit boring after the sixth appearance in a week. If you find yourself pulling eggplant from the garden by the bucket, change it up:
Cut it differently: cubes, rounds, sticks.
Change the seasonings: Mexican, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Southeast Asian.
There is no reason for boredom, even with a single vegetable type!
Here are a few tips to ensure your success in following the roasted vegetable route:
Use lightly oiled cookie sheets with sides for your roasting. Low sides keep the heat circulating around the vegetables much more efficiently.
Roast like vegetables together – ones that cook at approximately the same speed. For instance, all the summer squash and peppers roast well together. Eggplant takes just a couple of more minutes. So, if you put all three in the same pan, plan to remove the squash and peppers before the eggplant.
Cut the vegetables to the same size. You want them to finish roasting at the same time – all perfectly done, none overdone. The smaller pieces roast better than larger ones. You get more of the roasted flavor and caramelization that characterizes roasted vegetables. Go for a half inch dice, pushing it to three quarters of an inch. Stop there. Follow the half inch guideline if you are doing rounds also.
Coat the vegetables in some sort of oil or butter. Use butter only if you plan to serve the vegetables warm or hot. Otherwise the butter will harden and look nasty. The best way is to mix the oil and spices in a large bowl and then pile in your cut vegetables. Using your hands works well for this job. Make certain that the vegetables are thoroughly coated with the oil. This helps seal in the vegetable flavors, speeds up the roasting and assists in the browning.
Place the oiled vegetables on the baking sheet in a single layer. If you pile them, the vegetables will steam rather than roast. Soft and mushy is not what we are going for here. So spread out the vegetables and if they are not touching, all the better. If you need to use two roasting pans to accommodate the load, put one on the lowest rack in the oven, the other on the middle rack. Rotate the two pans every ten minutes as you stir your roasting vegetables.
Roast in a hot oven, usually 375 degrees to 500 degrees. We tend to stick to the lower end of the temperature range to protect the oil on the vegetables. You don’t want the oil to reach its smoke point.
Every ten minutes or so either stir or shake the pan to move the veggies around. Rounded vegetables shake well. Others need to be stirred and flipped for even roasting. The vegetables to the outside of the pan roast more quickly than those on the inside, so keep those veggies moving.
Your vegetables are properly roasted when they are just beginning to brown and are soft when pierced with a sharp knife. Watch to prevent burning. The burn is bitter. Just right is caramelized, fragrant and sweet.
Roasted Vegetables Recipes
For more specific recipes and techniques, check out our more specific roasted vegetable techniques:
Greek Roasted Potatoes
The key to this succulent side dish of roasted potatoes is allowing enough time in your preparation for the potatoes to cook. Start them in advance of the rest of your meal.
Oven Roasted Eggplant
Diced roasted eggplant can be served as a side dish or as an ingredient in soups and salads. It freezes well too, making it a great keeper to add to your wintertime soups.
Roasted Butternut Squash
Read more about roasted butternut squash, a food that can be served as a side dish or pureed and added to soups and baking projects.
It is a fairly simple process to make your own roasted pumpkin and to keep roasted pumpkin on hand to use in soups, breads, and desserts.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash
How to you get squash to look like spaghetti? Check it out here.
This is a great ingredient to have in a salad. We pair it with bacon here and pair it with some bright flavors and textures here.
Roasted Green Beans
There is a trick to successful roasted green beans. Check out some details on the best beans to use here.
Yes, you can (and should) try this. Roasting intensifies the flavor of the tomato just as it does other vegetables. We have a couple of different techniques we use that you can find here.
If you have an abundance of green (unripe) tomatoes, particularly in the fall before a freeze, roasting them is a great way to bring out their unique flavor. Check out more information here.
You definitely don’t want to overlook your opportunity in roasting beets. The technique is transformational to the beet. Get the details here.
Roasted Vegetables: Suggested Uses
With a growing emphasis on roasted vegetables we are all getting to discover flavors we never knew existed and vegetables are taking on a whole new life. Properly seasoned and roasted, vegetables are complex and satisfying, even addictive. A roasted green bean addiction? An addiction to roasted kale chips? Yes, a whole new life for most of us.
So how do you incorporate the abundance of roasted veggies into daily life? Be creative! Have no fear! You can hardly make a mistake on this journey. Well, I would suggest you pass up the roasted garlic on vanilla ice cream. But, there are so many other possibilities.
Roasted Vegetable Breakfast Ideas
Build a frittata around leftover roasted veggies from a prior meal. If your garden is really smokin’ you’ll be turning out extra trays of veggies most of the time.
Warm up some leftovers like red bell pepper or eggplant to serve beside a cheese omelet.
Warm up roasted potato cubes. This is an obvious breakfast selection, but why not try roasted sweet potato cubes with a savory seasoning?
Try warming a selection of roasted vegetables in a large skillet. Add a tad of oil and a splash of water. Put on a tight-fitting lid. Warm to steaming and top with grated mild cheddar or Swiss cheese. This is the frittata route without the egg. Now you have a huge vegetable breakfast. Try it, if you never have. Amazing! Serve with a good hot bread, like steaming cornbread and honey butter.
Like soup for breakfast? Warm up a bit of bone broth with your favorite leftover roasted vegetable calling to you from the frig. Green beans? No, they are never left over. Try eggplant. When the soup is steaming, add a good splash of whipping cream and run it all through the blender. Check for salt and pepper. Because the roasted vegetables have seasoning and lots of flavor, you should need to do little else. Now you have a large cup of exquisitely flavored nutritious soup for starting the day. This is not much more effort than making yourself a smoothie.
Roasted Vegetable Lunch Ideas
Composed Salads: Roast two or more vegetable varieties. Arrange them attractively on serving plates and garnish the plates with color and texture that compliments your vegetable selections. For instance, tomato wedges or cherry tomatoes add lovely color and flavor burst on a platter of roasted zucchini and yellow peppers. Sprinkle with a few black olives, a crumble of feta cheese. Add a sprig of fresh basil and you have a gourmet lunch that will wow everyone.
Tossed Salad of Roasted Vegetables: You can find salads like this in many cuisines around the Mediterranean. Season and roast your vegetables cut into slightly smaller pieces than you usually would. When the vegetables are done allow them to cool almost to room temperature then pile into a salad bowl. Drizzle on your favorite vinaigrette. Sprinkle with freshly minced herbs like parsley, basil, chives. Add some tiny fresh tomato chunks and toss everything together with a light hand. Check for salt and pepper.
Sandwiches: Roast eggplant or large mushrooms to fill a sandwich. Choose a fine bread. Have it toasted, hot and smeared with your favorite homemade dressing. A garlic mayonnaise will do just fine. This is a commons sandwich. Get daring and add roasted onion rings and red bell pepper strips. Yum!
Pita Filling: Follow the same course you would for the Tossed Salad then use the salad for filling up warm pitas. Use a Tahini dressing and tuck in a leaf or two of romaine lettuce. These pita sandwiches can taste forever different depending on which vegetables you have chosen and how you have seasoned them. This is a whole creative endeavor of its own.
Soup 1: Using a roasted vegetable in your soup-making increases the flavor measurably and adds little work to the meal prep. Season and roast any vegetable. While the veggie is roasting, warm up bone broth, grate a bit of Parmesan and mince a little fresh herb. When the vegetables are done, carefully transfer the vegetables to the food processor along with a cup of the broth. Process to smooth. Add the pureed vegetables to the bone broth pot. Stir to completely mix. Add whipping cream if you want a creamed version of this soup. Check for seasonings and make the necessary adjustments. Serve up the soup garnished with grated Parmesan and minced herbs.
Soup 2: Using a first-run, clear and delectable broth, make a memorable and almost instant soup. Warm up the broth and add bits of leftover roasted vegetables. Just before serving, add something fresh like corn just cut off the cob or bit of fresh tomato or both. Garnish with a freshly minced green herb.
Roasted Vegetable Afternoon Snack Ideas
Roast baby carrots with olive oil, cinnamon, orange rind and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Wash and clean tender green beans. Toss in a bit of oil and roast.
Kale chips are great for snacking. Who knew? Tear up kale leaves into small pieces about 1/1/2 inches square. Toss with some extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Bake a 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crispy.
Roasted Vegetable Dinner Ideas
Instead of mashed potatoes or fried potatoes, try roasted potatoes. There are all sorts of possibilities depending on the type of potatoes you are using and the seasoning you choose. The flavors and textures are superb and the end product belies the ease of putting this dish together.
Try a vegetable you may not have served before, like beets. Most folks who would turn up their noses at a steamed beet will consume mounds of beet cubes roasted with oil and garlic.
Serve a roasted vegetable in a form not served before. For instance, serve long wedges of roasted butternut squash with their peel still on. The peel helps to keep the wedge intact so you can enjoy the drama on your plate. The flavor is superb and the visual is really stunning.
Roast two or three vegetable together like onions, garlic and cabbage chunks. Serve them together dressed up with a Hollandaise Sauce or something similar.
So there you have it: a few suggestions to get you going. Be fearless and have fun. There is no limit to what you can create with roasted vegetables.