3 secrets to perfectly roasted vegetables every time

Published on October 15 2009 - 4:04 PM
3 secrets to perfectly roasted vegetables every time

Some cooks swear by their steamer basket for quick vegetable side dishes. But I couldn’t live without my roasting pan. After a busy day at work, I just cut up whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, toss them with a bit of oil, salt and pepper and pop them in a hot oven. A stir or two later, I have roasted vegetables full of flavor you could never coax from a steamer basket.

Here are three secrets to roasting vegetables perfectly every time:

1. Make sure you cut the vegetables into equal-size pieces. That way they’ll all cook at the same rate.

2. Spread the vegetables evenly on your baking sheet or roasting pan so they don’t touch. Crowded vegetables just create extra moisture and steam in the pan. (When in doubt, use two pans.)

3. Stir once or twice while cooking so the vegetables get nicely browned on all sides.

Our vegetable-roasting guide gives prep instructions for our favorite fall vegetables for roasting, but experiment with others as well. You can even mix and match vegetables—just make sure they have similar cooking times, or get ones with longer cooking times going first then add other vegetables accordingly. Don’t throw out your steamer basket just yet, but you might find yourself cranking up your oven more often.

If I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I stir some herbs or spices in with the vegetables. Here are 4 delicious flavor combinations to try:

Spicy Chipotle Roasted Potatoes—Roasted potatoes get a spicy, smoky flavor when tossed with ground chipotle peppers. If you like potato skins, just scrub the potatoes and leave the skins on—they add fiber and great texture.

Lemon-Herb Roasted Beets—We love how roasting brings out the sweet flavor of beets. Golden beets look especially pretty when tossed with the fresh herb and lemon seasoning mix, but any type of beets will work in this recipe. If you’re a lemon lover, be sure to add the squeeze of fresh lemon juice after the beets are roasted.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Chermoula—Here, a medley of root vegetables and winter squash are roasted with chermoula (also spelled charmoula), a quintessential Moroccan spice combination. (Any combination will work in this dish; start with about 12 cups of peeled vegetable pieces.) Be sure to peel turnips well; their skin is thicker and more fibrous than that of other root vegetables.

Chile-Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes—Give ordinary roasted sweet potatoes a big flavor boost with this quick, Asian-inspired seasoning mix.

Carolyn Malcoun combines her love of food and writing as a recipe contributor for EatingWell. Carolyn has a culinary arts degree from New England Culinary Institute and a degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison. Carolyn lives in Burlington, Vermont, and enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking and running in her free time.