Poor vegetables. Always getting such a bad wrap. Show me a person that doesn’t like vegetables and I’ll show you someone who probably hasn’t learned to properly prepare them. That’s my theory, at least, because making vegetables taste amazing is extremely easy. There’s no need to ever settle for mushy boiled vegetables for the sake of convenience. If you only ever learn to cook one thing, learn this trick, and you will always enjoy eating your vegetables.
Roast your vegetables at high heat with olive oil and salt.
Honestly, that’s the whole trick. The low smoke point of olive oil creates a beautiful char at high heat, and that’s the real star of the show. The caramelization mellows out any bitterness, and let’s the natural sweetness of the veggies shine. Add a little salt and some pepper to balance it all out, and you’re all done! You can add whatever flavors you want, but at the end of the day, all you really need is olive oil, salt, and heat.
The challenge, of course, is that not every vegetable cooks at the same time and temp. But with a little tweaking, I roast everything at 450º with great results. Take my Kung Pao Cauliflower Taco recipe for example; cauliflower takes longer to cook than onions and peppers, so I cooked the cauliflower at 450º for 20 minutes, then stirred in the onions and peppers, and cooked everything for another 20 minutes. You do have to use a little bit of judgement at times, but once you figure out which vegetables have a higher moisture content than others, staging your oven entry becomes second nature.
I know there’s some people that believe you should always eat your veggies raw because you can lose some of the nutrients during the cooking process. While this is probably true, I really couldn’t care less. Roasted vegetables are delicious, and when they taste that good, I want to eat a lot of them, and since they’re vegetables, I don’t need to feel guilty about stuffing my face! If there is one thing I remember from my nutrition classes in college, it’s that you can basically eat as many vegetables as you want. I have a BIG appetite, and I embrace those words.
Roasted vegetable are the focal point of many of my recipes, and I truly believe that if you give your vegetables as much love as you give meat in the kitchen, you’ll understand why I feel that way. There’s something that just feels good about cooking large quantities of seasonal produce, and roasting is a great way to cook whatever you pick up, all year round. It might take a bit more time to prepare than a simple raw salad, but I promise you, the results are well worth the effort.
4-6 cups diced or thickly sliced vegetables
Low moisture (cook for more time)- carrots, cauliflower, beets, potatoes, winter squash
High moisture (cook for less time)- onions, peppers, summer squash
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 450º. Toss the vegetables with oil and salt, and spread in a thin layer onto a baking sheet. Cook for 20-45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly charred and tender.
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for best results, and to avoid ruining your cookware!. Foil gives a better char than parchment paper, but can also burn things easier than parchment, which is a little more gentle. Both are good options, and either will work fine!
Stage your timing by letting more dense/low moisture vegetables cook for longer. Start your hard shelled winter squash or cauliflower cook for somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes longer than high moisture vegetables like onions and peppers.
Be careful not to overcrowd your baking sheet. You want the vegetables to all be in contact with the bottom of the pan, not stacked on top of each other. Spread onto multiple baking sheets if need be.
This method is probably not the best for greens, but heartier leaves like kale and collards can generally handle the heat.