Naturally low in calories and loaded with fiber, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, multi-colored vegetables should be eaten every day. Buy what’s fresh and in season and you will have nutrient dense, delicious dishes that require very little time to prepare.
If your hometown has a farmer’s market with local producers, that would be the best place to shop. Many of the local farmers in our area of New York bring beautiful produce to the Park Slope Farmer’s Market on Sundays. It’s fun to speak with them and learn about their farming and the love they have for their products.
When you’re in the local grocery store, purchase organic when you can. If there are blemishes on the soft veggies like zucchini and eggplant, chose a different piece. Dents indicate spots where mold is starting to form and should be avoided.
Roasting is done in a shallow pan in the oven so the pieces caramelize on the outside and are tender on the inside. The same basic roasting technique applies to all vegetables.
Preheat your oven before you start with oven rack set in center of oven.
You will need a sheet pan (with one inch sides) and a sheet of parchment paper. A sheet pan is used in place of a roasting pan (with three or four inch sides), so vegetables are exposed to heat on all sides. Do not overcrowd the pan; the vegetables should not be touching which would cause them to steam and become mushy instead of caramelize and achieve crispy edges.
The sheet pan should be lined with parchment paper. Unbleached parchment is available at your grocery store next to the foils and cling wrap; parchment paper will not burn on the oven so you’re safe up to about 450 degrees F. We do not recommend cooking directly non-stick pans due to toxic materials in them.
The oil you use is also important. The smoke points of oils vary greatly and you need a hearty oil that is not going to burn when exposed to high heat. We recommend olive oil, avocado oil, or ghee (butter that has had the milk and water removed) to roast. Coconut oil does not have a high smoke point and should not be used. Vegetable, canola and corn oils all have high smoking points but should be avoided due to high levels of Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFAs), GMOs and pesticides.
We recommend that each pan have a different vegetable on it. If you mix different varieties they’re not going to cook evenly. Chop vegetables into same size pieces, or chunks, so they cook evenly. Wash and dry each piece thoroughly before adding oil.
For a pound of vegetables, cut each piece into chunks, about one inch, strips or wedges.
Toss them in a big bowl, add about two tablespoons of oil, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to make sure each piece is evenly coated with oil. The veggies will not caramelize if there is too little oil and they’ll be greasy if you use too much. Tip: You can always add more oil, but you will have a hard time removing the oil if you add too much!
Lift pieces from the mixing bowl, including the little pieces that fall off, and place on sheet pan so their sides are not touching. This way they will be caramelized and crispy when cooked through.
Roast in preheated oven for desired time, turning once during cooking.
Let rest five minutes after removing from oven and adjust seasonings as needed.
If you’d like to add fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil, chop them up and distribute evenly over veggies during the last 5 minutes of roasting or when you pull them from the oven.
Recommended vegetables and cooking times:
Broccoli and Cauliflower: Remove stalks, break into florets and cut each floret in half lengthwise. Toss with olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Roast cut-side down at 400 degrees for 10-20 minutes.
Brussels Sprouts: Remove woody end from each sprout and slice in half lengthwise. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place cut side down on sheet pan and roast 25 minutes, turning once during cooking.
Eggplant: Trim stem and bottom of eggplant and cut lengthwise into ½ inch strips. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, turn and roast another 5-10 minutes until tender.
Bell Peppers: Cut peppers into halves. Scoop out veins and seeds with a spoon; remove stem. Cut each quarter into three wedges. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer, 15-20 minutes, turning once during cooking.
Zucchini, Summer Squash: Trim ends and cut in half lengthwise; brush with oil. Roast cut-side down at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn, season with salt and pepper and roast another 10 minutes.
Asparagus Spears: Snap or cut off woody ends. If you are using thick stalks peel the bottom half of the stalks with a vegetable peeler to make them more tender. Brush stalks lightly with olive oil on all sides and roast in a 450 degree oven for 10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. Shake pan or turn each spear halfway through cooking so they brown evenly. Season lightly with salt and pepper upon removing from oven.
Onions: Slice onions into ½ inch rings; do not separate the rings. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning once during cooking. If you’d like sautéed-style onions you can dice up an onion, toss with some oil, salt and pepper and roast on a sheet pan for ten minutes or so until brown.
Garlic: Trim ½ inch off the top of the bulb (the papery end) to expose the cloves of garlic. Drizzle the garlic with one teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and loosely wrap in aluminum foil. Bake 40-50 minutes in a 400 degree oven until very soft. When cool enough to handle, separate cloves and squeeze garlic right out of its skin.
Carrots: Peel and slice on the diagonal into 1-½” slices. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until tender.
Sweet Potato: For one large sweet potato, peel and cut into one inch chunks. toss with oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. For a little extra flavor and nutrients you can add ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon with salt and pepper. Potatoes should be golden brown when finished.
There are many more vegetables you can roast. Follow these guidelines and you’ll have success every time. Use different colored vegetables, vary the cooking methods, raw, steamed, roasted, and you will fill up and feel great by feeding your body tasty nutrients.