Nothing warms the soul than a perfectly cooked, roast veggie. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and bursting with flavor that leaves you salivating in seconds. Fortunately, the Food Matters team knows a few secrets to take your roast vegetables from drab to fab. I’ve even included some of our favorite exclusive recipes for kitchen inspiration
1. All About The Flavor
Everyone knows the best roast isn’t about what veggie, but about the flavor, it’s smothered in. Get creative with your spice rack and try a new combination. Curried vegetables with turmeric, curry powder, and chili are a crowd-favorite to accompany any Asian dishes. For a traditional Tuscan taste, try herbs such as thyme and oregano, with a generous helping of garlic. Those potluck Mexican nights? Try glazing your cauliflower with cumin and smoked paprika. Herbs and spices are like a math equation with no right answer; keep trying all the possible combinations until you find your most mouth-watering answer. After a good place to start? Let this Whole Roasted Cauliflower knock your taste buds off.
2. Keep It Local
Where possible, make sure the veggies you’re using are locally grown, seasonal and organic. This will make sure you’re delving into the most nutrient-rich and diverse plate of vitamins and minerals. Our body’s digestive cycles move with the seasons, so they crave different vegetables throughout the months of the year to support natural detoxification and hibernation. Plus, the reward of knowing you’ve supported a local business and kept your food miles to a bare minimum makes the roasties taste extra-sweet. Our Roast Kumara and Chickpea Salad with Almond Parmesan is a great base to start substituting those out-of-season vegetables with some local produce.
3. Play Around With Oils
Many of us were taught that the perfect roast is made when it’s tossed in a cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, and in many dishes, this may be true. However, the seasoned roasters know that playing around with the type of oil used to crisp the vegetables will totally change the aromatic outcome of the dish. Coconut is a wonderful oil to use that has an impressive nutritional profile, and a dash of sesame oil can be used for an aromatic, South-East Asian flavor. If dairy is in your diet, try using a little ghee for a rustic take on roasties or opt for a neutral but nutritious flavor with safflower or grapeseed. It’s just as important to make sure you don’t drown the vegetables in oil, both for texture and overall health, and to ensure the oils aren’t exceeding burning temperature, becoming carcinogenic. This Satay Vegetable Curry with Quinoa is a wonderful way to play around with the different flavors of oils.
4. Keep It Uniform
Cutting your vegetables to roughly the same size will ensure they cook evenly and on time. There’s nothing worse than serving up a soggy potato alongside a starchy one. Don’t be pedantic, but do try to make it easy for yourself once the roasties get into the oven. Some veggies can be trickier than others, but learn how to nail it with this Roast Pumpkin and Chili-Garlic Spinach Pasta.
5. Stagger Cooking Times & Trays
Everyone’s found out the hard way that most foods cook in their own time, meaning a zucchini is far more likely to be reduced to cinders before a chunk of sweet potato. Start with your heavier, starchier veggies, and as you take the pans out of the oven to toss, gradually add the lighter foods so they’re all ready at the same time. It’s also important not to overcrowd the pan, so the roasties caramelize and crisp, rather than steam and stick. If you’re cooking for a crowd, it may be easier to use a couple of different trays - and this way you can sort your cooking times down to the minute! Take guidance from Lee Holmes with this Prebiotic Tray Bake with Tahini Drizzle.
6. Get Creative With Leftovers
While the most mouthwatering roast vegetable is fresh out of the oven and fragrant, it’s pretty much common knowledge that they taste just as good, if not better, the next day. I love to cook up a bunch of roasties to last me a week; they’re delicious in wraps, dunked in hummus, or plonked on top of wholesome, homemade lentil dahl or kitchari for a plant-based, protein-rich, soul-warming dish. Roasties are delicious on homemade pizzas, in a frittata, tossed through a salad with baby spinach and goats cheese, or even thrown together with free-range eggs to make a smokey breakfast hash. My favorite for any occasion? Sweet potato chips, sprinkled with chili flakes and crisped with coconut oil. Or try these Mashed Vegetable and Quinoa Fritters.
Roast vegetables are a household staple, but it can be hard to weed out the mouthwatering recipes from the not-so-wonderful. With these few tips and tricks up your apron, I can’t wait to see what magic you create.