When I was recently home for a fake, post-holiday Thanksgiving meal, I was shocked at the degree to which my vegetable-loving mom does not know how to cook vegetables. I am assuming this is a common problem, and one that probably prevents a lot of people from eating the magnitude of veggies they’d like to eat (or should be eating). I am working from home today and multi-tasking, and I had about a thousand pounds of vegetables in the fridge from my farm share. So I’m roasting. This is hands-down the #1 way to cook vegetables. And once you know the general principles, it’s pretty foolproof. The only veggies I prefer sauteed instead of roasted are greens like collards and spinach. Everything else is getting thrown in the oven. So here’s how to do it…
Which Vegetables Are Good Roasted?
- Roasting works very well for the vast majority of veggies: carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, broccoli, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, squash, mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, rutabagas, you name it.
- It works less well for leafy greens like collards and spinach, which isn’t to say it can’t be done.
How Should I Prepare the Vegetables for Roasting?
- I thoroughly clean the veggies but leave on the skin except for carrots, parsnips, and squashes, which I peel.
- I usually cut the vegetables into bite-size pieces, except for asparagus and green beans, which I leave long.
- Put the vegetables on a flat cookie tray lined with parchment. Do not use a casserole dish or other dish with a rim; those capture the moisture and will steam your vegetables instead of roasting them.
- Melt 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil in the microwave, and pour over the veggies. Use refined coconut oil if you don’t want any coconut taste, but I usually don’t mind the unrefined stuff. Sub in olive oil if you prefer it or don’t have coconut oil.
- Toss the vegetables with your hands to coat with the oil, and then sprinkle with salt to taste. I like a good generous salting to make the vegetables mouth wateringly flavorful, but you should salt based on your preferences and health concerns.
- MOST IMPORTANT: AFTER TOSSING, SPACE YOUR VEGGIES ON THE TRAY. Vegetables that are too crowded or touching too much will steam, not roast, and just won’t be as good. Here is how my broccoli looks on the tray:
What Temperature Should I Use?
- For most vegetables, you should roast at 425 degrees
- However, I usually roast broccoli and beets at 375 degrees so that they get cooked through without burning on the outside
- If you are cooking something else at 400 degrees and need to share space, any vegetable will probably be OK. But don’t share an oven with items cooking at 350, unless you want limp, soggy vegetables.
How Do I Know When They Are Done?
- Cook times will vary based on the vegetable. You will know they are done when they are tender all the way through (keep a little snap though!) and beginning to caramelize on the outside. A few darker spots are totally fine. Here’s what my finished beets look like:
- Broccoli and asparagus go dark pretty quickly, so be sure to check those after about 10 minutes to make sure the ends don’t burn.
- When vegetables are getting close to being finished, keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook and start burning. I check mine every five minutes or so once they are really cooking.
- As another reference, here are my sweet potatoes:
OK, Do I Need to Do Anything Else?
- Nope. But if you want to add some sauces, butter, lemon juice, dressings, nuts, cheeses, etc. feel free. I take no responsibility regarding whether doing so messes up your simple, beautiful, roasted gems.
- If you want to serve your vegetables in a salad or other composed dish (yummy in eggs), go for it, but they are great plain as a side dish, over rice, or even as the main event.