I thought about simplicity last night as I slid these heads of cauliflower into the oven for a simple olive-oil-topped roast. I was reminded that this is the time of year in much of the northern hemisphere where we take our last deep whiffs of what the farms have to offer before turning to our winter cooking habits. This weekend I invite you to find some fresh vegetables to roast from your local market or backyard garden. Stop worrying about how you're going to cook your turkey and just make something to eat now.
Here is a simple formula to start with when thinking about roasting vegetables. With practice, you'll tinker with the elements and find your own way.
How to Roast Any Vegetable
- Pre-heat oven to 425°F
- Chop or break up vegetables, or roast them whole. The larger the piece, the longer it will take to cook.
- Place in an oven-safe skillet or cast-iron pan, or a roasting pan. Have neither? Make a boat out of aluminum foil. Whichever you use, tent the top with foil.
- Drizzle with a spoonful or two of olive oil, just enough to very lightly coat when tossed. Toss.
- In general, the harder (to the touch) the vegetable, and larger in size, the longer it takes to roast. Whole beets can take an hour or more, while asparagus will roast up in about 10 minutes and doesn't need the tenting.
- Test for doneness by pricking with the tip of a paring knife. Knife should pull out easily. Also notice the aroma becoming rich and even listen for sounds from the oven.
- For a crispy finish, remove when you have 5-10 minutes left.
- Serve with a light shower of sea salt or sprinkle nuts (whole, chopped or ground), breadcrumbs, or grated cheese (like Parmesan) on top.
- Don't be afraid to experiment: while the classics like potatoes, squash, beets and carrots are always good, try branching out with cabbage, fennel, leeks, even fruit like grapes, oranges, quince.
A Few Recipes for Roasted Vegetables
If you absolutely must follow a recipe, here are a few to get you going:
- Roasted Garlic
- Roasted Fall Vegetables with Feta Cheese
- Roasted Sweet Potato Sticks with Rosemary
- Roasted Beet Salad with Barley, Feta, and Red Onion
- Roasted Baby Cabbage
- Roasted Butternut Squash Puree with Goat Cheese
- Roasted Grapes with Walnut Oil
- Roasted Orange Wedges with Herbs
The simple things are sometimes the tastiest. In fact, that is often the case. We're here to deliver such news. Happy roasting.
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