Now that we’re halfway through fall (how did that happen?), roasted vegetables of all shapes and sizes are back on the dinner table on a regular basis. Beautiful rainbow carrots, stark white, earthy parsnips, acorn squash, love-it-or-hate-it eggplant …the list goes on and on. To ensure each veg is cooked to perfection, you might want to think twice about chopping them up and tossing them in the same baking dish.
Here are a few simple tips and tricks to help you roast vegetables like a pro, and maybe even find a new appreciation for certain varieties that you weren’t so fond of before. I’m looking at you, Brussels sprouts!
Tips and Tricks:
1. Roast like vegetables with like vegetables.
Yams and potatoes can be best friends in a baking dish, but something juicier, like zucchini or tomatoes tossed in? Not so much. A juicy vegetable will impose on the crispy, caramelized texture you’re looking for in starchy varieties, so keep ‘em separate.
2. Don’t overcrowd the pan.
Similar to the above, overcrowding vegetables on a roasting pan impedes their ability to caramelize. It’s not that you need to space out chunks of broccoli two inches from each other, but work in batches if needed. This mentality can also be applied when pan-searing mushrooms in butter Try it and taste the difference!
3. Working with large vegetables.
Roasting a halved butternut squash, whole heads of cauliflower or big russet potatoes should not be cooked at the same high temperatures as their chopped counterparts. Lower and slower is a better approach in these cases.
4. Make sure to use enough oil.
Dry vegetables typically result in not-so-great roasted veggies. Depending on what you’re doing with them once they’re cooked, it’s better to stick with a neutral-tasting oil like canola. This variety has a high smoke point than your standard olive oil.
5. A little sweetness goes a long way.
While coating vegetables with oil, I will often add a little something sweet like maple syrup or brown sugar to the mix. Not only does this add extra flavour, but it helps things caramelize nicely. This works especially well with ingredients like carrots, parsnips or Brussels sprouts.
6. The unusual roasters.
There are plenty of vegetables at the grocery store you might walk by time and time again, and never think of taking home to roast. I operate with the mentality that any vegetable can be roasted. Radishes taste completely different when roasted (sweet and juicy), kohlrabi, which is also delicious raw, turns out tasting like a turnip. One of my favourites is taking thick cuts of green cabbage and roasting it at a high temperature. Once charred, it develops an unbelievably delicious umami flavour. Out of this world!
General Roasting Temps and Times for Popular Veggies:
Small/Cubed Potatoes & Squash (1” or smaller): 450°F for 20 to 25 minutes
Whole Russet Potatoes & Large, Halved Squash: 375°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour
Chopped Broccoli, Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts: 425°F for 30 to 45 minutes
Whole Broccoli Stems & Heads of Cauliflower: 350°F for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes (turn to high broil near end of roasting for better caramelization)
Whole Beets: 350°F for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size
Carrots & Parsnips: 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes
Eggplant, Zucchini & Kohlrabi: 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes