If you didn’t know yet, I love to roast vegetables. I think roasting yields the best flavor and texture. However, I’ve ruined my fair share of roasted vegetables. Here are some secrets to mastering the process:
- Make sure your oven is hot: I’ve found the optimal oven temperature to be 450 degrees. Anything lower and I don’t get the crispyness that I like.
- Don’t use too little (or too much) oil: Without enough oil, vegetables dry out. Too much, and they end up soggy. I like to arrange my vegetables either on the baking sheet or in a bowl, lightly drizzle them with oil, and toss to coat. They shouldn’t be dripping with oil, but sporting a subtle sheen from a light coating.
- Don’t overfill your oven: Too much in the oven and your veggies won’t brown appropriately. Ideally, you don’t want anything else in the oven that will release moisture. And avoid placing multiple sheets of vegetables in the oven at the same time.
- Give them (adequate) room to breathe: If you crowd your sheet, the liquid released as a result of baking will cause the vegetables to steam instead of crisp. There’s nothing worse in my opinion. But some vegetables you might not want super crispy (like broccoli), and others might be best with a crunch (like cauliflower). I like to bunch my carrots, green beans, and broccoli together so they don’t dry out, while brussel sprouts and cauliflower do best with room. Learn how you like your veggies and adjust accordingly.
- Cook appropriate vegetables together: Carrots are going to take far longer to roast to a desirable texture than broccoli. Putting them on the same sheet means you’ll sacrifice flavor of one for the other. Root vegetables can often roast together because of their density as long as they are cut to similar diameters. If I’m baking cauliflower and brussel sprouts together, I’ll usually halve or quarter my sprouts so as not to overcook my cauliflower. Broccoli and asparagus are a nice pair as well.
- Watch carefully to prevent overcooking: I LOATHE overcooked vegetables. I like just a tinge of resistance when they’re pierced with a fork. At 450F, as soon as the vegetables start to brown I watch very closely. I know almost exactly how long to bake each vegetable in my current oven, but it has taken years of trial and error. Take notes and adapt your timer as you learn your oven’s idiosyncrasies.
- Season before baking: Used in moderation, salt and pepper are your friends. I season with salt, pepper, and any dried herbs before baking rather than after. I just think the flavors meld better this way.
- Parchment paper can be friend or foe: Parchment paper holds moisture. For vegetables that like to stick to the pan, like zucchini, potatoes, etc., parchment paper can be useful. Piling it high with vegetables will leave you disappointed though. If you’re looking for a nice char, skip it.