Friday, March 12, 2010

Roasting Vegetables

Asparagus: Leave whole; peel if necessary.

Bell peppers: If not roasting over an open flame, cut these into 1-inch chunks.

Broccoli: Cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch diameter individual florets, the tips of which get charred beautifully crisp. Peel, then halve or quarter thick stems (which are delicious).

Brussels sprouts: Halve them.

Cauliflower: Treat like broccoli.

Corn: Cut into kernels; will cook very quickly and you may only want to brown one side.

Carrots: Cut a 1-inch chunk off the top end at a 45-degree angle. Roll the carrot a quarter turn and repeat. This weird oblique shape gives you lots of surface area to caramelize its abundant sugars. 1/2-inch coins or half-moons also work well.

Eggplant: Cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks.

Fennel: Cut into 1-inch pieces.

Green beans: Make sure they're tender; old, tough ones get tougher in the oven. Leave whole, stems removed.

Onions: Cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges, and break apart into individual layers.

Parsnips: Treat like carrots.

Radishes: Leave whole if small, about 1 inch in diameter; otherwise cut in 1-inch pieces.

Sweet potatoes: Cut into 1-inch pieces.

Tomatoes: Cut 1-inch-wide wedges or 1/2-inch slices. They won't really brown well but can have a nice concentrated flavor.

Turnips: Cut into 1-inch chunks.

Zucchini and summer squashes: Cut into 1-inch chunks, or oblique-cut like carrots.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. You can go hotter or cooler, depending on what ratio of browning-to-tenderness you want.

Cut vegetables into a big bowl, toss them with plenty of salt and pepper and good extra virgin olive oil.

Spread the vegetables out on a baking sheet, not crowding making sure they're all in one layer. Use multiple sheets if necessary. Place in oven, in the middle or top rack. Turn until all sides are browned.

If browned, but not yet tender, turn the heat down to 350 degrees F and sprinkle on some water, maybe a few tablespoons' worth, to cool the pan and to help create a little steam.

Serve by sprinkling a good vinegar (balsamic), fresh herbs (thyme, oregano), nuts, raisins, or shaved parmigiano over the top.


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