There are few vegetables that don't benefit from the heat of the oven. Even watery radishes are transformed, their spicy bite tempered to a mellow kiss.
Oven roasting intensifies the natural sugars of vegetables while caramelizing the exterior and converting the insides into a soft and flavorful goosh.
People who hate Brussels sprouts, and I know a few personally, have been known to turn a 180 once they taste the sweetness of those tiny cabbage heads roasted to soft, imploded heaps. (Adding bacon crumbles doesn't hurt either.)
And if you need more reasons to roast vegetables this week, consider this: Roasting helps maintain nature's nutrients. In many cooking methods, simmering and even steaming, for example, vitamins and minerals leech into the water and air. Not so with roasting, which keeps the vegetable's attributes intact.
Roasting times will depend on the vegetable, but the oven is nearly always a preheated 400 degrees. Watery or lighter-density produce, such as tomatoes, asparagus and radishes,
will be ready in about 15 minutes. Onions, eggplant and peppers require at least 30 minutes, and the densest vegetables — potatoes, beets, carrots and winter squash — could take up to an hour. Some of the produce department's most underused veggies also take well to roasting, among them parsnips, turnips and rutabagas.
Cut the vegetables in similar-size pieces to ensure even cooking. If you're roasting a mixture of vegetables, they should all be of the same density unless you want to fish them out of the oven in stages. That's a problematic technique I wouldn't recommend.
To prepare vegetables for roasting, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. The vegetables should be lightly covered with the oil but not look greasy. The oil facilitates browning and caramelization, and you don't need a lot. After they come out of the oven, fresh lemon juice or a bit of balsamic vinegar adds more flavor, slapping awake the quiet earthiness.
Roasted vegetables are a wonderful side for roasted meats or chicken. But they also have other applications, especially the leftovers, including as the primary building block of a vegetarian entree. Here are some ways to serve them:
Creamy Soup: Toss roasted carrots and potatoes into a blender to puree, then add half-and-half or stock (chicken or vegetable) to add depth for a filling soup. Reheat if necessary, though if using dairy, don't bring to a boil. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream and croutons.
Bowl food: Pile mixture of roasted eggplant, peppers and onions on top of couscous and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and chopped fresh mint. Or use as a topper for pasta with lots of shaved Parmesan. (Save some of the pasta cooking water to make the vegetables more saucy.)
Veggie Pie: A melange of roasted veggies makes a wonderful topping for pizza, using refrigerated dough, a Boboli shell or homemade pastry. To complement the deep flavor of the vegetables, use a smoked mozzarella, which will play off tangy tomato sauce well. For a roasted vegetable white pizza, brush crust with olive oil, layer on vegetables and then scatter knobs of goat cheese all over.
Dip it: Make a dip by blending roasted vegetables in a food processor. Remove to a bowl and add equal amounts of sour cream and mayonnaise, using less of each with watery vegetables such as tomatoes. You'll need some seasonings to wake up the laid-back vegetables, so consider finely chopped rosemary with roasted onions; nearly any herb with roasted garlic; chopped basil with roasted peppers; or chopped dill with carrots or cauliflower. Use fresh or dry herbs, but remember the dried versions are more potent and you'll need about a third less than if you use fresh.
Stuff it: Use roasted vegetables as a filling for quesadillas with pepper Jack cheese and a generous drizzle of salsa verde. (Pace makes a tasty tomatillo salsa.) Or stuff into half a pita with feta cheese crumbles.
Fold it: Up the ante on a Sunday morning omelette by using leftover roasted asparagus along with chunks of brie cheese.
Munch it: Or just do what I do, wait until the veggies cool a bit and nibble piece by piece, like popcorn. Mellow, sweet and healthy. Something we should all aspire to be.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached email@example.com or (727) 893-8586.
1 head of cauliflower
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely minced
2 tablespoons melted butter
Lemon juice from half a lemon
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut cauliflower into florets and put in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. Toss in the garlic and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle lemon juice over cauliflower and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If the oven hasn't reached 400 degrees yet, set aside until it has.
Place casserole in the hot oven, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Test with a fork for desired doneness. Fork tines should be able to easily pierce the cauliflower. Remove from oven and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
2 bunches medium radishes (about 20)
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons (¼ stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 450 . Brush large, heavy-duty, rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Cut off all but ½ inch of green radish tops; reserve trimmed tops and rinse them well, checking for grit. Coarsely chop radish tops and set aside. Cut radishes lengthwise in half and place in medium bowl. Add 1½ tablespoons olive oil and toss thoroughly to coat. Place radishes, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Roast until radishes are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Season to taste with more coarse kosher salt, if desired.
Melt butter in heavy, small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pinch of coarse kosher salt to skillet and cook until butter browns, swirling skillet frequently to keep butter solids from burning, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in fresh lemon juice.
Transfer roasted radishes to warmed shallow serving bowl and drizzle brown butter over. Sprinkle with chopped radish tops and serve.
Source: Bon Appétit
1 pound fresh asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
Lemon zest for serving
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and arrange the asparagus in a single layer on the tray. Drizzle the olive oil over the asparagus, toss it gently, and then roast it in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until it turns tender and lightly browned.
Toss the roasted asparagus with the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper; serve immediately with lemon zest.
Serves 4 to 5.
Roasted Root Vegetable Medley
8 to 12 slender carrots, peeled and trimmed
8 to 12 baby turnips, peeled
6 to 8 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise in halves
1 or 2 large parsnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
1 or 2 medium onions, trimmed, peeled and halved, each half cut into quarters
1 or 2 large beets, peeled and cut into thick wedges
1 or 2 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cut into thick wedges
1 celery root, trimmed and halved, halves cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices
1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400
Put all the vegetables and the herb sprigs in a large baking dish. Season well with salt and black pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss them with your hands to coat them evenly.
Put the baking dish in the preheated oven and cook, stirring the vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve the vegetables from their baking dish or transfer them to a platter to accompany a roasted main course.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Source: Wolfgang Puck, Food Network
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 package Brussels sprouts
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and dry the Brussels sprouts. Trim off the ends of the sprouts, remove the outer leaves, and then cut them in half. Set aside.
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and butter to the pan. After the butter has melted, add the sprouts and cook for 3 minutes, just until the sprouts have started to brown. Add the bacon back to the pan and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread the sprouts and bacon out onto a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, or until the sprouts are fork-tender. Remove from the oven and serve.