Eat Your (Roasted) Veggies

Please don’t leave. 🙂 I promise this post will help you learn to love the veggies you thought you hated.

I have to confess that not just as a kid but even as a young adult, I despised vegetables. Eating corn and peas was my idea of fulfilling my veggie requirement. I’m still not entirely sure how my palate finally allowed me to overcome my aversion (read: vile hatred), but I’m guessing it was probably due to the following two reasons, one of which might work for you too if you’re currently in the veggie loathing phase:

1. I think my initial attempt at incorporating more veggies into my diet was purely for the superficial reason of fitting in during social situations. And by that, I mean I didn’t want to be the sole person during group dinners who passed on salad or asked for extra potatoes or rice instead of the side of veggies. Like any other self-conscious teen, I desperately wanted to be “socially acceptable” so I choked down those pieces of iceberg lettuce in the salad that came as a precursor to my dinner to avoid appearing irrationally picky.

2. The substantial addition of vegetables to my daily diet occurred once I learned about the glory of roasting. When I first developed a commitment to healthy eating, I stumbled across a nifty vegetable roasting chart in a Good Housekeeping magazine. It was like a whole new world opened up to me. The article accompanying the guide explained that roasting in a screaming hot oven brings out the natural sugars of the veggies when they caramelize versus steaming or boiling. All it took were the words “sugars” and “caramelize” before I decided I had to try it (yes, I may or may not have an insatiable sweet tooth).

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I started slow with mild and sweet vegetables like zucchini and carrots, then graduated to the stronger flavors and textures like peppers and cauliflower. It’s crazy how a different cooking technique can transform the vegetables I once thought disgusting into a mouthwatering side I now want to make again and again.

In fact, I don’t think a week goes by in our house that we don’t have roasted vegetables as an accompaniment to dinner. While steaming has a time and place, there is just is no comparison to the sweet, slightly charred, brown, salted, crisp edges and intense flavor of roasted veggies. It may take a bit longer than steaming or sautĂ©ing, but it doesn’t require any additional hands-on work – less, actually!

Fall vegetables are practically designed to be roasted because they hold up so well in the oven, but you can do the same thing with summer vegetables (depending on whether you want to heat up your house on a sweltering hot day) or on the grill; it’s basically the same method. Chop, toss with olive oil, S&P, place in grill basket or on skewers (or cut in large pieces to lay directly on grill grates) over high heat and turn the veggies halfway through. You just have to babysit the grill a bit more than an indoor oven.

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Below is a list of some of my favorite veggies for roasting, complete with cooking times, temperatures, and seasoning suggestions. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that broccoli is a good starting point for a roasting newbie. It’s also probably my favorite veggie to roast, given the taste and texture of the finished product and its versatility for pairing with a main dish of any flavor profile.

You might say you avoid roasting because of the mess and burnt-on residue. The solution? Simply cover a sheet pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, which you can later toss for minimal cleanup.

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Vegetable Roasting Guide

For every 2 pounds of vegetables, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Don’t forget to check veggies halfway through while shaking the pan to get them golden brown on all sides.

Vegetable How to Cut Roasting Time at 450 F Seasoning
Asparagus (2 lbs) Trimmed 10 to 15 minutes Sprinkle with 1 tsp freshly grated lemon peel after roasting
Beets (2 lbs without tops) Whole, unpeeled, pricked with a fork, then peeled after roasting 1 hour Chop, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 1 tsp freshly grated orange peel after roasting
Broccoli (2 lbs) Trim and peel stem; split florets into 1 1/2-2 in wide pieces 10 to 15 minutes Sprinkle with 1 tbsp grated cheddar cheese after roasting
Brussels Sprouts (2 lbs) Trim and halve through stem end 15 to 20 minutes Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately
Butternut Squash (2 lbs) 2-in pieces 40 minutes Toss with 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled, before roasting
Carrots (2 lbs) 1-in pieces 30 to 40 minutes Toss with 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice before serving
Cauliflower (1 1/2 lbs – 1 medium) 1 1/2-in florets 20 to 30 minutes Sprinkle with 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley after roasting
Eggplant (2 lbs – 2 medium) 1/2 in thick slices 20 to 25 minutes Drizzle with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil after roasting
Fennel (2 lbs – 2 lg bulbs) Trimmed and each cut into 12 wedges 35 to 40 minutes Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp freshly grated orange peel after roasting
Green Beans (2 lbs) Trimmed 20 to 30 minutes Toss with 2 tbsp each fresh lemon juice and chopped fresh dill after roasting
Onions (2 lbs – 2 jumbo) Each cut into 12 wedges 20 to 30 minutes Brush with mixture of 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cider vinegar, roast 5 minutes more
Potatoes (2 lbs unpeeled) 2-in pieces 45 minutes Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp freshly grated orange peel after roasting
Sweet peppers (2 lbs) 1-in wide strips 30 minutes Sprinkle with 3 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, after roasting
Sweet potatoes (2 lbs) Cut crosswise in half, then lengthwise into 1-in wedges 30 minutes Toss with 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary before roasting
Turnips (2 lbs) Peeled and cut into 6 wedges 45 to 50 minutes Toss with 1 tbsp fresh chopped mint after roasting
Zucchini (2 lbs) Trimmed and cut in half crosswise, then each half quartered 15 to 20 minutes Top with 1 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan

Ever since I’ve found a way to prepare vegetables that makes them appealing to me, I no longer understand the notion of “sneaking” them into other foods. I even credit the art of roasting to helping me transition to eating raw veggies, sometimes without a dip in the ranch or hummus pool *gasp*. Never in a million years did I think that would happen.

Don’t make nutrient-packed veggies an afterthought or a should. Prepare them in such a way that they taste so good you’ll want to eat them instead of feeling obligated.That’s my version of the “eat your vegetables” speech. 😉

What’s your favorite way to prepare veggies?

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