Hint: It’s all about the heat!
Welcome everyone to this week’s chef tip: How to Roast Vegetables.
Now, it’s fair to say, “but Chris, I already now how to roast vegetables, you just bake them at 400°F until they’re done!” And yes, technically you would be right, those veggies would be fine.
But we’re not here to make “fine,” food. We’re here to make GREAT food. And it’s really not too difficult to make great roasted vegetables, just follow a few simple steps.
Step 1: Preheat Oven to 450°F
Here’s the first difference you’re going to see, a hotter oven. Depending on the vegetables I’m roasting, I’ll even take the heat up to 500°F to get a nice, dark crust.
Vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and Cauliflower contain quite a bit of water. It’s important to drive this water off quickly, so that your veggies will begin to caramelize on the outside before they’re fully cooked in the middle. Leaving you with a nice crunchy outside and an al dente center.
A trick I like to do for an extra crispy surface on my veg is to leave the baking sheet in the oven during the preheating process. This will get it nice and hot so the food starts cooking the moment it hits the sheet.
Step 2: Prep Your Vegetables
Always wash your veggies first. You never know how may time they hit the floor before you purchased them.
I prefer to quickly soak my veggies (about 5 minutes) in a 3:1 water and vinegar bath. This helps neutralize some fungus and bacteria common on produce (read more about this process). The effectiveness of this method is not entirely proven, but vinegar is cheap and I’ll join the “it can’t hurt” camp on this one.
After soaking, rinse thoroughly and shake/pat dry. Remember, the drier the better for roasting. That water is going to prevent the surface temp. of the veggies from getting hot enough to crisp. If you can, wash your vegetables a day ahead and allow them to sit in an open container in the refrigerator. with a way to drain. Like this handy item:
When cutting your vegetables, the goal is to make them as similar sized as possible. This creates even cooking on all pieces. You don’t have to be perfect here, just in the ballpark. And remember, the smaller the pieces, the faster they’ll cook.
Lastly, toss your vegetables in a high smoke point oil, something like peanut or sunflower oils will work well here. You don’t need much, just enough to lightly coat the food. At this point you can add your seasonings if desired, but hold off on any delicate flavors (garlic, fresh herbs, etc.) until the very end or they’ll burn on you. Now you’re ready to roast.
Important! Do no use olive oil, it will burn during the roasting period and leave a foul flavor on your veggies. If you like the E.V.O.O. taste on your food, use it as a finishing oil after cooking.
Step 3: Roast Vegetables
Using a heat-proof cloth or glove, remove the preheated sheet tray and set it on a heat safe surface. Spread your prepped veggies out in a single layer onto the sheet.
Be sure not to overcrowd your vegetables. If they’re too close together they’ll end up steaming rather than roasting, leaving you with a mushy, unpleasant product. If you need to, roast vegetables in batches.
Make sure your sheet pan is set on the rack second from the top. Depending on the type, size, and quantity of vegetables you’re roasting, it will take anywhere from 12 to 45 minutes to finish. It’s best to keep an eye on them and note when they start getting golden brown. They’ll cook pretty quickly from that point. If desired, mix the veggies around halfway through cooking for a more even roast.
Tip: I like one really dark surface on my veggies, so I’ll lay them on their flattest cut side and roast them to completion without mixing them up. This is a personal preference, and works especially well with Brussels sprouts.
Step 4: Customize
Now that your veggies are perfectly roasted, if you haven’t already, season them up.
If you’re adding flavors that require quick cooking (i.e. garlic, ginger, thyme), toss them onto the hot sheet tray with the veg and carefully mix around. Now would also be the time to add any finishing oils like Truffle or E.V.O.O. The heat from cooking will be enough to release the flavor aromas of the oils without burning them.
Step 5: Enjoy!
That’s it! Now you know how to roast vegetables with the best of them. So go ahead and make a healthy snack.
Try adding them to a salad, a pasta dish, or to a savory breakfast oatmeal for a real change-up!
Thanks for reading along and be sure to let me know how your roasting goes. If you find any better methods let me know!
As an aside, here’s some recommended flavor match-ups for unique roasted veggies:
Broccoli: Try finishing your roasted broccoli with fresh garlic, ginger, salt, and a splash of fish sauce for a savory Asian style paring.
Brussels Sprouts: Go Mediterranean with a mixture of salt, za’atar, and freshly squeezed Seville orange juice. If you cant find the Seville oranges, sliced kumquats also do the trick!
Cauliflower: I like a spicy take on my cauliflower by seasoning with smoked paprika, chili flakes, coriander, cumin, coarse salt, and fresh squeezed lime juice.
Asparagus: Personally I think asparagus are best prepared simply. I go for salt, fresh lemon juice, and grated SarVecchio cheese. Prefect.