Roasting is an easy way to cook healthy, delicious meals with a minimum of effort. I’m not thinking of Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas roast beef, but the ordinary vegetables, meat and potatoes we eat every day. In fact, roasting creates such rich tasting vegetable and potatoes that meat and fish can be kept to a minimum or avoided entirely.
Roast a complete meal, timing the vegetables, potatoes and fish or meat all to be done at the same time. Prep is easy. Roasting requires little work after the vegetables are cut up. Best of all, it’s almost fool proof!
Here are few keys to good roasting.
They begin with good roasting pans, which must be large enough. Roasted vegetables and potatoes taste so good because the crisp parts have begun to caramelize, bringing out richer flavors. The pieces need to be far enough apart to caramelize quickly.
You want what restaurants call “sheet pans.” Full sheet pans (18” X 26”) are too large for most home ovens, but ½ size sheet pans (18” X 13”) fit perfectly and ¼ size sheet pans (9” X 13”) are useful for smaller quantities. They come in stainless steel, aluminum and anodized aluminum, which is the least likely to bleed dangerous elements into your food. They can be purchased on line for anywhere from $10 to $15 for the ½ pan sheet size.
Vegetables appropriate for roasting. Root crops come to life with roasting, which brings out their flavors and sweetness and they are available in winter when (outside of California) most other vegetables must be transported from far away. Broccoli heads and cauliflower are wonderful as well. You may even get your kids to eat them!
Tips for Roasting
- Preheat the oven to between 375° and 425°. Experiment and find out what’s best for you. 375° you don’t have to watch as carefully, but it takes longer. At 425° they brown faster but may not be quite as soft and tender and the can quickly burn.
- Use vegetables that cook in the same time on the same sheet pan, then stagger the times you put the sheet pans into the oven.
- Cut the vegetables into roughly the same size pieces, about an inch to an inch and half for broccoli.
- Chop roughly and add several cloves of garlic (I use five or six large cloves for each sheet pan).
- Put the cutup vegetables in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add any other spices such as red pepper flakes and curry or chili powder.
- Put the vegetable pieces on a sheet pan with plenty of room between each piece.
- Check them in about 20 minutes. When they begin to brown, turn them over to brown them evenly on all sides.
- They are done when they are light brown and tender.