Kitchen Focus

Roasting vegetables can be a satisfying, healthful way to create a hearty meal. Roasting gives vegetables a richer, sweeter flavor. This month, I'm offering some advice on roasting vegetables to do just that. When choosing vegetables to roast, combine a variety of seasonal vegetables i.e., corn, onions, peppers, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, zucchini and summer squash. You can also add root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips and rutabagas.

Cut large vegetables into bite-size pieces, brush with a little olive oil and add herbs and spices. Dill goes well with tomatoes, potatoes and beets. Mint is nice with corn, zucchini and red bell pepper. Rosemary is a good complement to onions and mushrooms, as thyme is to eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes and summer squash.

Place the vegetables in a roasting pan that is large enough but not crowded. Overcrowding steams vegetables and leaves them limp rather than tender. They should be basted occasionally while cooking, with broth or juice (orange or apple), and stirred gently.

Vegetables have varied cooking times, depending on their density and size. If roasting different types together, cut the denser ones in smaller sizes so that all vegetables cook and become tender at the same time or opt to add them to the roasting pan at different times. Tomatoes, summer squash and eggplant need less cooking time than corn, rutabaga, onions, bell peppers and winter squash. Parsnips, potatoes, carrots and some squashes and beets can take up to an hour or more.

To start you out, here's a good, basic recipe for roasting a wide variety of vegetables together. Feel free to skip those you'd like or add more of others. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables

  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and quartered or 3 large parsnips -- peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 8 small red potatoes, halved if large
  • 2 small white turnips, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 white pearl onions, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, trimmed but unpeeled
  • 1 large portobello mushroom, stemmed and cut into 8 wedges
  • 8 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leafed parsley, leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the parsnips, carrots, potatoes and turnips with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, plus a little salt and pepper, until coated. Arrange the vegetables cut-side down on a large baking sheet and roast on the bottom shelf of the oven for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are beginning to brown. Turn the vegetables 2 or 3 times during cooking to prevent burning.

In the same bowl, toss the pearl onions, garlic and portobello mushroom with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus a little salt and pepper, until coated. Add this mixture to the baking sheet of vegetables and gently stir to combine. Continue roasting for 7 to10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of salted water to boil and blanch the Brussels sprouts for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly under cold running water. Set aside separately. In a small bowl, combine the shiitake mushrooms and the Brussels sprouts and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus a little salt and pepper, until coated. Add them to the baking sheet of vegetables, stirring to combine. Dot the butter over the vegetables and sprinkle with 1/4 cup wine. Roast for another 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and gently mix them with the thyme and parsley before serving.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour