Perfectly Roasted Veggies

 

Roasted vegetables are magical.

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I like my salads and steamed dishes just fine,  but roasted veggies are where it's at in my book. I adore the crispy, caramelized outside of a roasted veggie and the just-cooked-through middle. Plus, oven roasted vegetables seem to absorb the flavor of their seasoning so every bite is utterly flavorful. Every veggie that enters my kitchen is at risk of being roasted and quickly devoured. It's just their fate. 

With my deep, passionate love of roasted vegetables comes the perfected method of cooking them. I've had plenty of failures that I have learned from. But those failures don't have to be yours as well. Here, allow me to share my roasted veggie wisdom with you.

1. Whatever you are roasting, cut the pieces so they are about the same size. This is important so that all the veggies cook evenly. I prefer bite-sized pieces so that they can go directly from roasting pan to my mouth (forks are overrated). 

2. Don't even think about crowding the pan! I know it's tempting in hopes of saving on dishes, but crowded veggies end up steaming each other rather then roasting. If you want that lovely caramelized outside, give your veggies space.

Too crowded! This may be pretty to look at but these veggies will steam each other instead of roast! 

Too crowded! This may be pretty to look at but these veggies will steam each other instead of roast! 

Muuuuuuccccchhhhh better!  

Muuuuuuccccchhhhh better!  

3. Line that baking sheet. Probably the hardest learned lesson when roasting veggies is the scraping of the unlined baking sheet after dinner. Man, oh man. Talk about required elbow grease! The caramelization of the roasted veggies is the burning of their natural sugars, which they weep during the cooking process. Sometimes, that weeping goes a little nuts (especially if you are roasting something that has lots of natural sugars like sweet potatoes or butternut squash) and then burns on the pan...turning into lovely edible cement that has murdered more than one of my baking sheets. 

4. A little oil goes a long way. Dry roasting your veggies is delicious and an easy way to cook veggies. However, I personally love how a little coconut oil brings out the best flavors in my veggies. They taste decadent and buttery. But you can over do oil, even the healthy kind.  When oiling up your veggies, the rule of thumb I use is 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil per baking sheet of veggies. MAX. I often cut that down to 1 1/2 tablespoons.  I roast mainly root vegetables that are not terribly porous, so any extra oil that isn't absorbed to the veggies just makes them feel a bit greasy. If, however, you are roasting something that will soak up the oil, like a zucchini, go for the 2 tablespoons.

5. Temperature and timing is key. My magic number is 450 degrees F.  Some people opt for 425. But I say the hotter the better. That high temp is what makes them all crispy on the outside and that crisp is the big appeal of roasting. As for how long, I usually stick them in for 20-25 minutes. If you like your veggies a little blackened, then push it to 30-35.

6. Give 'em a toss! About half way through the cooking time, give the veggies a little flip. This helps each chunk of veggieness to cook evenly.

7. Make them ahead of time. Roasted veggies hold their flavor and shape beautifully and reheat really well! Roast up veggies during your weekly meal prep or the night before a crazy day so you have plenty to nibble on when time is not on your side.