Fresh Living

Happy Foodie Friday, everyone, and welcome to harvest-foods season!  To me, autumn food means roasting.  And my very favorite fall dinner is to snatch up whatever multi-colored melange of in-season veggies I can find at my farmer’s market or supermarket, roast ’em up, then toss them with penne, olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a handful of pecorino cheese. Sure, I’ll have seconds!  And leftovers for lunch?  Yeah, baby!

The possibilities for roasted vegetables are endless, from chopping up and tossing in with risotto or brown rice, enjoying as a side dish with meat or fish, or even making a tasty pizza.  Don’t forget to shmear a bulb of garlic with olive oil and wrap it up in foil to roast along with whatever veg you’re roasting off on any given night.  Your house will never have smelled so good…. 

To achieve the best roasted veggies, all you need are some simple rules.  Here are 5:

1.  Hit ‘Em with High Heat:  I roast vegetables at 475 degrees, as Fine Cooking magazine advises, because that high heat allows the bottoms of the veggies to caramelize against the pan, and it also allows the water within the vegetables to quickly steam out, leaving you with crisp-tender perfection.

2.  Lubricate, But Not Too Much:  I use 1-2 T of olive oil for a panload of veggies.  The fat will crisp up on the outside of the veg with that amount, without leaving them to fry instead of roast.

3.  Don’t Crowd the Pool:  To maximize the roasted goodness, never roast more than 1-2 cups of vegetables on a single sheet pan.  If your pan is more crowded than that, the vegetables will steam together, rather than achieving the crisp caramelization that defines a good roast.

4.  Flavor Before the Fact:  Liberal pre-roast use of kosher salt, pepper, and any herbs you might want (I usually turn to thyme) is the best way to guarantee flavorful vegetables that will sing instead of whisper “carrot.” 

5.  Watch for Time:  Different vegetables take different times to roast fully but not overcook.  The denser veggies, carrots and sweet potatoes, for example, will take 15-20 minutes at least–with a flip/stir at the midpoint–while green beans only take 10-15 minutes max.  Learn as you go, or click around the web for recipes that specify times for particular veggies. 

I’ve found that roasting vegetables is like a master technique – once you get it figured out, you won’t be able to stop…thank goodness! 

Please share your favorite roasted veggie secrets in the combox!  

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