Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veggies: Roast 'em if You Got 'em!

I don't think I've told you, yet, about my deep and abiding love for roasted vegetables. I love them. Adore, worship, glorify, treasure, cherish them. That may sound a little over the top, to you, but really, I'm mad about roasted veggies. Roasting turns a vegetable into a more perfect version of itself -- a little sweeter, a little nuttier, a little more like a celebration, rather than the portion of your dinner you choke down for health purposes.

And I never get tired of roasted vegetables, since there are so many veggies and so many preparations. In the summer, I roast eggplant to use in ratatouille and turn pounds and pounds of tomatoes into edible rubies thanks to Molly Wizenburg's recipe for Slow-Roasted Tomatoes. When fall hits, there are trays upon trays of roasted veggies: fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, green beans, turnips, and winter squashes of all kinds. And on nights when we're having the emergency dinner of choice in our house -- quesadillas -- I can make an effortless, cheap, side dish out of a bag of frozen, organic corn.

So here are just a few of my favorite roasted veggie recipes for fall. Despite the fact that I'm posting recipes, there is not a "wrong" way to roast your veggies. As long as you get them onto a pan with some oil (or at least some Pam) and get them in the oven, they will probably turn out yummy. So, e.g., if my recipe below calls for a 425 degree oven, but you're cooking a main dish at 375, no sweat! Just pop the veggies in with your main dish, at the lower temp. Just roast 'em if you got 'em.


Sources: adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters, and William-Sonoma Vegetable, Marlena Spieler
Serves: about 6
Time: 5 mins. prep, 45 mins. unattended baking, another 5 mins. assembling

If you think you aren't a fan of beets because you've mostly had the canned variety that turns up on salad bars, then it's time to think again. Try this method and you'll end up like me: thinking about beets in the middle of the night, wondering whether your husband ate the leftover beet salad or whether you will get it for lunch tomorrow . . . Roasting beets, rather than boiling them, preserves the sugar in the beet -- it isn't lost into the boiling liquid. If you buy your beets with the greens still on and don't plan on preparing them for a few days, then cut the greens off a little above the root. The beet root will keep a week or so, without their tops, loosely wrapped in the fridge. (P.S. You can eat the greens, too!)
  • Beets
  • vinegar (Balsamic, red wine, white wine, sherry)
  • salt & pepper
  • sugar
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the beet greens off, leaving about 1/2 inch of stem. Wash the beets well and put them in a baking dish with a big splash of water (about 1/2 inch of water). Cover tightly (either with a lid or foil) and bake for about 40 mins (for small beets) to 1 1/2 hrs. (for large beets) -- until a sharp knife easily pierces through the center of the biggest beet.
  2. After the beets have cooled a bit, peel them. I just slide the skins right off, using a small knife in any spots where it sticks. Cut them into quarters and place in a bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the beets with vinegar, salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Let them sit for as long as you can -- at least 15 mins. (The beets need a chance to absorb the vinegar to be truly, truly delicious!)
  4. Add a little olive oil -- not too much!

The beets are delicious just plain like this, but here are my favorite ways to finish them:

1. Add some crumbled goat cheese and dill.

2. Prep some baby greens with salt, pepper, juice from half a lemon, and olive oil. Put the beets on top. Bonus points: add goat cheese and toasted walnuts. (And grilled chicken is yummy, too!)
3. Toss some sections of blood oranges (or whatever oranges you have on hand) with the beets. Also good over the greens described above.


Source: adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Serves: about 4
Time: about 7 mins. prep, 20 mins. mostly unattended cooking time, and 5 more mins. assembling

This is my kids' favorite vegetable. We call it "Popcorn Cauliflower" in our house, as the little florets resemble popcorn -- and are coated with butter and crunchy salt.
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • cooking spray (or olive oil)
  • coarse salt
  • about 1-3 tsp. butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Prep the cauliflower: cut out the stem and separate the florets into small, bite-size pieces. Spray a baking sheet (jelly-roll pan) with Pam and spread the cauliflower onto it. Roast the cauliflower for about 20 mins, until it is nicely browned. Stir the florets once or twice while roasting.
  2. Meanwhile, put a bit of butter in a small frying pan and let it brown. (If you're rushed for time, use high heat and it will brown fast.)
  3. When the cauliflower is done, put it in a serving bowl and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle the browned butter on and toss.

Note: My neighbor adds mushrooms to the roasting pan, which sounds delicious, but I haven't tried it, yet!

Source: Adapted, barely, from Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters
Serves: 4-6
Time: 15 mins. prep, 40 mins. mostly unattended roasting time
  • 1 winter squash of your choice (butternut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkin, etc.)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • parsley or thyme
  1. Preheat your oven to 375.
  2. Peel your squash with a sharp vegetable peeler (and a knife, if necessary). Scoop out any seeds/strings. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Toss with a few whole cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet (jelly-roll pan) and roast for about 40 mins., until tender and nicely browned. Stir every now and again to prevent burning.
  3. Toss roasted squash with some freshly chopped parsley or thyme.
Source: Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters
Serves: 4 (or just me, alone)
Time: 7 mins. prep and about 20-30 mins. mostly unattended roasting time

I'm not much of a carrot fan, in general. I don't mind those ubiquitous baby carrots, but I don't exactly crave them. But find me a gorgeous bunch of carrots at the farmer's market and roast them up, and suddenly I'm sneaking the little gems off the baking sheet so fast that there are barely any left at the dinner table . . .
  • carrots
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Peel and trim the carrots and then cut them on the diagonal into thin slices. Toss the slices with a lot of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the carrots into a single layer on a baking sheet (jelly-roll pan) and roast for about 20-30 mins. Definitely stir and toss them a few times, especially near the end. I like them pretty browned, but it's up to you.

Note: Alice Waters' recipe adds turnips to this, which sounds awesome. I've added wedges of onion and enjoyed that, too.

Source: Barely adapted from Cheap. Fast. Good., Beverly Mills & Alicia Ross
Serves: 4-6 (or just me, alone . . . again)
Time: 2 mins. prep and 10-15 mins. unattended cooking time

You won't believe how roasting can turn that bag of corn you always have stashed in your freezer into an exciting, craveable side dish. We make this any time we're having a Mexican main dish.
  • 1 lb. bag frozen corn (organic and extra-sweet recommended!)
  • 1 TBSP canola oil
  • Coarse salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 450.
  2. Dump the corn into a colander and rinse with cool water, to defrost somewhat. Drain well. (I pat it with paper towels, too.)
  3. Spread the corn on a baking sheet (jelly-roll pan). Drizzle with the oil. Stir to coat and then redistribute in a single layer. Roast until the kernels start to brown -- the original recipe calls for 10 mins, but I like them pretty browned, so I go closer to 15-20 mins. I stir at 10 mins., though. (If I can remember!)
  4. Season with coarse salt to taste.

Roast 'em if you got 'em! And let me know if you have a favorite roasted veggie I should try!



  1. Made roasted carrots last night per your instructions and they were yummy--tasted like candy. Even received a compliment from James and so that means they were very very good.

  2. WOW! This is awesome, Megan! Roasted beets and squash this week, for sure! YUM.

    Stacy Boodman

  3. Megan - Congratulations on your blog. Very entertaining. I've roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes but not corn or beets. I can't wait to try some of your recipes. If you get up North, please give a call.

    Happy Holidays!

  4. Thanks, Jen! Hearing from you made my day!