Roasting is possibly the greatest treatment any vegetable can receive. It concentrates and sweetens what is already there without a lot of work on the part of the cook. Here I’m going to show you a basic recipe which can be applied to any vegetable.
I will be using what used to be my least favorite vegetable: turnips. I simply won’t eat them any other way. I like to cut them in slices so they have a larger surface area to get that nice golden brown color on. The golden ones don’t have any of the bitterness which I associate with turnips. The basic principle for cutting your vegetables is to aim for union size, so that they cook consistently. Other than that you can be creative.
Carrots can be cut in rounds, on a bias, in strips. Eggplants in cubes or slices. Squash in cubes or wedges. Potatoes, tomatoes, beets, parsnips, fennel, green beans: they all like roasting!
My next bit of advice is in regards to seasoning. I am always surprised when I’m watching food-related TV and the host generously pours olive oil over whatever vegetable is being roasted. It’s excessive. There is no need for that much oil!
I have a simpler solution. The trick is to pour a small swirl of olive oil on the empty baking sheet and then spread it around with (clean!) fingers. Dump the veggies on top and don’t stir. Into the oven they go! This method uses so much less oil because you are only covering the surface of the baking sheet. Or course, use a cheap olive oil since most of the flavor will be taken away by the oven’s heat.
Sprinkle some salt and pepper over everything and slide it into a 400°F oven. Check on it every 15 minutes. Give it a toss and see how close it is to being done. You can use a fork and just take a bite. It should be soft but not mushy. Season and serve.
Here is my best estimation of roasting time:
Asparagus – 10 minutes
Beets, cubed – 40 minutes
Beets, whole – 1 hour
Cauliflower, florets – 25 minutes
Carrots – 30 minutes
Fennel – 30 minutes
Green beans – 15 minutes
Squash – 40 minutes
Turnips – 35 minutes
Zucchini – 15 minutes
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Clean and cut your vegetable of choice into uniform pieces. Take a baking sheet and pour a small swirl of olive oil on it. Spread the oil with your fingers. Dump the cut vegetables onto the oiled baking sheet.
Place baking sheet in oven and check every 15 min on progress. Vegetables should be tender but not mushy. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs (optional).