I opened my refrigerator Saturday morning and peeked into the vegetable drawer. The gorgeous veggies I bought Monday stared at me, lifeless and wilting.
I had every intention of making massive salads out of the lettuce, tomatoes, carrots and peppers. However, the reality of life trumped my desire to cook anything more complicated than a bowl of pasta and sauce.
It was time for a mass roasting. Saturday my kitchen looked like a vegetable butcher shop. Scraps of wilted produce in one corner, carrot tops and romaine lettuce ribs in another.
In a couple of hours that pile of on-its-way-out veg was transformed into a crispy, tangled mess of caramelized goodness. Tossed with pasta or quinoa or eaten on their own with a light vinaigrette, roasted vegetables will keep for up to a week in the fridge and you can freeze potatoes and carrots for a couple of months.
If roasting seems like more of a hassle than it is worth, you aren’t doing it properly. Here are the four secrets to roasting perfect vegetables:
Size, Fat, Heat, Time.
Size: Whoever said “size doesn’t matter” didn’t roast carrots or potatoes. The first secret to roasting perfect root veg is to cut everything the same size. Carrots, potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, kohlrabi should all be cut into about 1/2-inch pieces.
Fat: Olive oil, canola oil and grapeseed oil are my favorites. Don’t skimp on these healthy fats. They give the veg a crispy exterior and seal in the flavor.
Heat: High heat is another key ingredient that produces a crispy exterior and melting interior. High heat beautifully blisters the skin of your peppers, and gives roasted lettuce a characteristic smoky flavor.
Time: Be patient. It takes time to make a meltingly soft roasted potato or caramelized carrot. The only veggies I don’t roast for a long time are tomatoes, romaine lettuce or kale, but everything else can sit in the oven for as long as it takes to get a sheen of brown goodness.
How to Roast a Pepper
3 bell peppers
1 tsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
3. Drizzle peppers with olive oil.
4. Roast peppers for about 20 minutes.
5. Turn over and roast for another 15 minutes.
6. Turn a quarter turn to one side and roast until the skin blisters, another 15 minutes. Turn a final time to the other side and roast until the skin turns black in a few places.
7. Remove the peppers from the oven and immediately wrap in aluminum foil. This is an important step because this helps steam the skin so it easily peels from the outer part of the pepper.
8. After about 5 minutes remove from the foil, then peel the membrane away from the pepper leaving the soft flesh behind.
9. Blend into dressings, soups, sauces, or just keep on hand covered with a little olive oil for snacking with crackers and vegan cheese.
How to Roast Perfect Fingerling Potatoes (carrots too)
3 lbs large fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Toss potatoes in olive oil and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.
3. Sprinkle with salt and ground pepper.
4. Roast until tender, stirring occasionally, about 75-90 minutes or until lovely and brown in color.
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
I love tossing these with pasta, arugula, herbs and lemon for the perfect summer dinner.
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 pinches black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Toss all ingredients together and spread in a single layer in a roasting pan or baking sheet.
3. Roast until the skins begin to split, about 10-15 minutes.
Roasted Romaine Lettuce
Don’t turn your nose up at this. I was skeptical the first time I tasted it, but I immediately fell in love. When the heat hits the lettuce it makes it instantly sweeter with a smokey overtone. Such a nice change from the basic salad.
3 heads romaine lettuce halved lengthwise
1-2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Drizzle olive oil over lettuce, sprinkle with salt and pepper.3. Roast for about 5 minutes or until it begins to wilt and is browned around the edges.