How to Roast Vegetables
The things we know like the back of our hands...
The things we take for granted. The seemingly simple second nature routines. We all have them. I not-so-secretly wish that my own repertoire included mad graphic design skills and the ability to play the violin. I'm light years from either of those but cooking not so much. And even more specifically, this. Or should I say these. The other night I had my best girls over for dinner and these tomatoes were fresh out of the oven. Roasted vegetables. Little more than kosher salt, fresh pepper, good olive oil and heat extending the life of the precious produce inside my oft' overly stocked, ambitious fridge. Al took a picture. Corey questioned how. The unique know-how that each of us possess is not always common so here we are.
Like the method, I'll keep this post simple. A kind of quick reference for any roasting noobs out there. If this technique is not in your (second) nature I hope you embrace it and roast repeatedly until you're fearless no matter how many batches of asparagus/tomatoes/potatoes/zucchini/broccolini you burn. It's the easiest, most satisfying hands-off way to make use of the vegetables you're trying to better about eating. Plus they generally turn out gorgeous like this.
how-to (and why)
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line your sheet tray with parchment paper.
The parchment will save you from needing copious amounts of oil to avoid the vegetables sticking to the tray. Just in case you find yourself questioning it in the grocery aisle, wax paper is in fact NOT the same.
2. Cut vegetables to approximately the same size so that everything cooks at the same rate.
Size matters. Most veg can go straight onto the tray without modification. Nature has conveniently evenly sized things like tomatoes, broccolini, and asparagus (just trim the ends) but for things like zucchini or larger potatoes, just make sure that the cut pieces are all approximately the same size or that slices are the same thickness. You want everything to cook at the same rate.
3. Season generously
Take the cap off the olive oil and place your thumb over the opening. Drizzle with discretion over the vegetables. They need to be coated but they shouldn't be swimming. Use your hands to toss them around and coat them in the oil. Sprinkle with a few generous (key word) pinches of kosher salt (not iodized, not sea salt, just kosher) with your hand held high above the tray followed by several turns of freshly cracked black pepper.
4. Roast until done
A classic kitchen instruction. I can't tell you how long it'll take you to roast whatever's on your tray. Depends on what it is. Depends on the size of the pieces. Depends on if the temperature of your oven is accurate. Depends on your preference of roast-iness. Start checking after 15-20 minutes for tender stuff like asparagus and broccolini. If whatever it is looks roast-y and is tender when poked with a knife, it's done.
A little bit of guidance and some flavor inspiration. Thinking hard on whether or not there's a fruit or vegetable that doesn't take well to roasting. On the vegetable side, this is what's generally in my oven. Everything below assumes a 400 degree oven.
tips: roast small potatoes whole and cut larger ones into quarters.
pair: fresh rosemary and chopped garlic (before)
timing: 25-45 minutes depending on size
tips: leave the peel on and slice into rounds just over 1/4 inch thick
pair: smoked paprika (before) and chopped fresh parsley (after)
timing: 25-30 minutes
tips: roast small tomatoes whole. cut larger tomatoes in half and remove seeds.
pair: dried oregano and whole garlic cloves (before)
timing: 25-40 minutes at 400 or you can go low and slow at 300 for several hours.
tips: slice into rounds 1/4 inch thick
pair: grated parmesan (before)
timing: 15-20 minutes
tips: snap the stem ends off (they'll break naturally at the perfect point) or trim with a knife.
pair: lemon zest, butter, and toasted almonds (after the roast)
timing: about 15 minutes
tips: roast wrapped in foil with 2 tablespoons of water. cool completely before rubbing off the skins.
pair: citrus segments and goat cheese (after)
timing: about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size.
tips: trim ends and cut thicker pieces in half from top to bottom.
pair: lemon slices and red pepper flakes (before the roast)
timing: about 15-20 minutes
tips: peel, slice from top to bottom, remove seeds, cut into 1 inch cubes
pair: whole garlic cloves and sage (before)
timing: about 25-30 minutes