Every year around this time, but this year especially, I become obsessed with roasting vegetables. I love the way the rich sweetness of root vegetables fills the air as the oven warms the kitchen. We like taking my son to Horrocks, our local farm market — it’s like our own local version of Trader Joes. It’s amazing! — and letting him help pick out fruits and vegetables. I think that getting kids involved with the buying process can encourage them to try more new foods and help them to form good eating habits. (When possible, that is. I know all too well that sometimes a grocery store is the only place a parent can get 45 minutes of solitude.)
I decided to chop up everything at once, and make bags for the freezer. We’ve done this a couple of times now and it’s so nice to have a bag of veggies in the oven ready to be roasted. (I also know that we’re roasting them more often because it’s so easy!)
You’re going to set your oven somewhere between 350° and 375° and it’s going to take somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour. It’s going to depend on how large of pieces you cut your veggies in, your oven, your baking dish, the moisture in the air… even the veggies themselves! You’ll get a feel for it, and it’s really hard to over-cook them, especially in a glass baking dish lined with parchment. When you start to smell them, check a piece and see if it’s done to your liking.
Here’s another thing I love about roasting vegetables: It’s so easy to experiment and hard to screw up. Case in point: I roasted some beets and sweet potatoes last week and seasoned them as normal. When I pulled them out of the oven, we were surprised at how spicy they were! Turns out, I had grabbed cayenne pepper instead of paprika. Oops. We figured we’d try to save them, because we could always throw them into a food processor and use it as a base for some sort of soup. So, I pulled out a half stick of butter, spread it out over the veggies and we threw them back into the oven for another half hour or so. I’m not sure whether the sweetness of the butter balanced out the spiciness of the cayenne pepper, or if it just acted as a lubricant and all of the pepper ended up at the bottom of the pan… but it worked! They turned out spicy, but not TOO spicy.
I like to leave all of the skin on when I’m roasting veggies. Personally, I like the texture, and there are also extra vitamins! In fact, the skin is where many vitamins are concentrated in root vegetables. You’ll want to rinse your vegetables well before roasting, though, and a vegetable brush with firm bristles will help to remove the little nubs and imperfections.
Using whatever knife you’re comfortable with, chop all of your vegetables into similar sized pieces that are no more than an inch thick. Try to keep all of the veggies chopped in roughly the same-sized pieces, but also keep in mind that softer potatoes and sweet potatoes will cook slightly faster than thicker vegetables like carrots. Brussels sprouts, and other leafy greens need even less time, and depending on your own liking, you may want to add them in half-way through cooking.
Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes are not actually related! There are roughly 5,000 different types of potatoes worldwide. Potatoes are an edible tuber. Sweet potatoes, are a root vegetable. Leave the potato skins on for vitamin C , potassium and vitamin B. Sweet Potatoes are packed with β-carotene.
Not sure which kind of potatoes to get? There are three main types, according to thekitchn.com:
1) Starchy potatoes (russets and many sweet potatoes): Great for baking and frying as they're absorbant.
2) Waxy potatoes (red-skinned and fingerling potatoes): These potatoes are great for soups and salads because they hold their shape so well during cooking.
3) All-purpose potatoes (Yukon Gold, blue, and purple potatoes): Good for roasting, mashing or baking.
Turnips are root vegetables with edible greens. The root is a bulbous taproot (I choose you, Bulbasaur!) which is high in vitamin C. It tastes similar to a potato, and is a very affordable addition to roasts and potato dishes! In Ireland and Scotland, they carve turnip lanterns at Halloween!
Cauliflower may be a tired staple of the store-bought veggie tray, but it becomes something altogether new when roasted. It’s high in vitamin C and also a moderate source of vitamin B & vitamin K. Cauliflower grows in a fractal pattern, which makes it scientifically interesting, and it’s been around for a very long time. Perhaps as far back as the 6th century B.C.!
Carrots & Parsnips are closely related to Parsley, and like turnips, these are taproots. Carrots get their distinctive orange color, because they are high in β-carotene. Carrots are also a good source of vitamin K and vitamin B6. Parsnips are particularly high in potassium and are also a source of anti-oxidants.
Brussels Sprouts get a bad rap on TV shows, cartoons and movies, but they’re actually a tasty leafy green veggie related to both Broccoli and Cabbage. When over-cooked, they can become bitter, but by roasting them, they keep their rich taste and a tender crunch. Brussels sprouts contain excellent levels of vitamin C and vitamin K.
Beets & Golden Beets are another taproot with edible greens. Beets are prepared in a number of ways throughout the world. They are the source of a natural magenta dye, which can be used to color eggs, or dye natural fibers such as cotton, or wool. Golden beets have a slightly sweeter taste. When roasted, beets retain their rich sweetness and stay crisp.
Leeks are related to onions and garlic. Leeks have a mild onion-like taste, and can be used to flavor stocks and stews. Leeks are mentioned in Shakespeare but also have enjoyed more recent fame on the Internet.
I also sliced up three different types of onions as well as a head of garlic. These aromatics will help to flavor the other vegetables, and they’re tasty to eat as well!
Once you’ve got all of your vegetables prepped, it’s just a matter of coating them in a thin layer of oil, adding your spices, and putting them into the oven. When I’m putting together bags for the freezer, I do this before adding oil or spices. I used olive oil but you can use whatever oil you prefer. Be careful not to add too much. You want a thin coating on all of your veggies.
All of the vegetables above yielded 8 bags for the freezer, plus an oven’s full that I roasted right away. I decided to try out some different combinations and try out some different spice combinations as well.
Here they are out of the oven. Look at all of those beautiful colors! I love eating food that is as beautiful as it is delicious. I also like how making different combinations of the same veggies, and changing the spices slightly makes it feel like several different roast vegetable dishes! Along with a pan full of a little of everything, I tried out some of the following combinations: