Sunday, January 17, 2010

Roasting Vegetables 101

Here is a comment left for me to my latest "food" blogpost, and I spent so much time on my response I thought I would turn it into a blogpost..... I hope this is of interest to more people....

ajam00,

Tracy, I would like to try this. How long do you roast the veggies? I'm assuming you also add some seasonings? Thanks for any info.


ajam00,

Sorry for taking so long to get back to your comment....

The great thing about roasting veggies is that the only seasonings you absolutely need is salt. Oil is the fat that provides the "lubricant"....and flavor, lol, but, any other seasonings you use are a "bonus". Here are my top 3...

Red pepper flakes ( adds heat!)

Curry powder (also adds heat, but curry is a strong spice and you have to like it!)

Lemon....(sometimes you need a little "acid" to balance the oil and salt), great on asparagus.

But oil and salt, that's it....pepper is good, but remember, pepper is a spice too!

Now for roasting times.

The more "dense" a veggie is then the longer it needs to be roasted, but most veggies, no matter what their density can be cut in a way to promote even cooking times, about 20-30 minutes on 375-400 degrees...you know your oven better than I do! (mine is 400). About half way through shake the pan, or use tongs, a spoon/fork to turn over, as the veggies brown....you want the "brown" stuff", lol!

For instance, root veggies, winter squashes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, etc. Of all of the above, carrots are the most dense and need to be cut a little smaller than the rest to cook in the same amount of time.

Greens....brussels, (Kori B mentions) green beans, asparagus, cabbages (cabbages are big brussels, lol!) depend on how big they are, or how small you dice, or slice them.

Other veggies like cauliflower, red bell pepper or any peppers, onions (shallots), garlic, broccoli, mushrooms etc., can all be exciting combinations, but I would probably suggest roasting one type of veggie at a time. Once you get comfortable with a favorite, then you can start to combine them....it's addicting!

A few things to remember.

When you add oil, at least 2 tbls to a full roasting sheet, that adds 200 calories! But "fats", I don't believe, are an enemy, necessarily.....it's not WHAT you eat, but HOW MUCH you eat!

"Roasting" is a "winter time" cooking method. Can you imagine turning your oven up to 400 degrees on a hot July afternoon? Summertime is for "grilling". Also keep in mind the difference between "winter" and "summer" veggies and that can determine whether or not your roast, or grill. We live in a country where winter and summer veggies are available year round, but I find being conscious of seasonal foods is a habit that saves money and helps you develop a style of cooking that is true to our nature.....whatever that means, lol! If you place importance on seasonality, then fine....but if you don't......pick up some strawberries for dessert!

The difference between "roasting" and "grilling".....both are "dry heat" methods of cooking, and both require a hot pan, or hot grill top to start. Put your roasting pans in the oven to pre-heat while you're cutting your veggies....the same as you would start your grill, get it hot and then place food on top of the hot grill.

The best way to learn is to "do"! Look up some other roasting recipes to find the "common theme", and go for it! Don't be afraid, and don't be intimidated....it's just cooking!

And remember....I'm not an expert when it comes to cooking, I just cook! Alot.

The above photos show 2 heads of cauliflower I roasted tonight, for soup tomorrow. Also, I cut one butternut squash in half and placed on a oiled 1/2 sheet pan, (don' worry about the seeds or the skin....it's so much easier to clean the seeds out of squash, and scoop it right out of the skin after it's cooked!), at the same time, in the same oven, for soup that I'll make tomorrow night.

6 comments:

Mark Reifkind said...

don't let her fool you. she is an expert cook.because she cooks alot. and thinks about it deeply.
I loves those roasted veggies, love.

Kori Bliffert, RKC II, NASM-CPT said...

My lord you would like I was one of Pavlov's dogs!! As soon as I saw your roasted cauliflower my mouth started watering!!! But seriously I love that I am roasting tons of veggies...they are soooooo good!! Have you tried roasting fresh spinach? I had it at a restaurant once but I am afraid to try it b/c I don't think it will turn out.

ajam00 said...

Tracy!
Thanks so much for the "roasting lesson"! I will be trying this soon. I'm starting to take care of mother and I KNOW she will enjoy this.

This weekend I broken my new pressure cooker. I had to get use to all that hissing but once I calmed down it all went well. I made a turkey stock using smoked turkey legs. Then I used the turkey stock to make a collard green and blackeye pea soup. Both recipies were from Miss Vickie's Blog

We're enjoying the dish but the collards are a little "mushier" then I like. Because the field peas took a little longer to get done. Maybe "field peas" and "Blackeye peas" are not quite the same thing. I'll continue to practice with this but I'm having a ball!

While this was going on I made some Kale chips. I first saw that recipe in a Rachel Ray mag but I found several recipes on the web. They were DELICIOUS! My mom liked them too. I know this is the first time I've purchased kale and its the first time that I've eaten it that I know of.

Thanks for taken the time to respond. Now I just gotta make myself swing that bell!

P.S. Sandra Lee did Roasted Vegetables today on the Food Network. Here's the Link

Tracy Reifkind said...

Sweetie,

You are my biggest fan!

Tracy Reifkind said...

Kori,

Fawn showed me how to grill Chard, and that was the first time I was exposed to grilled greens! Spinach, chard, cabbage....grilling it adds that smokey flavor of grilling. And it's a method I use for salads all summer long!

But roasting....you have to ask yourself what is the purpose?

As I mentioned in the blogpost, roasting is a winter time cooking method and grilling is for summer.

Spinach is available year round, but it is probably most associated with a winter green....even though I'm not sure of it's season! Roasting spinach.....hmmnn... Well, spinach wilts, practially, on contact with heat, so what does roasting it, compared to stir frying it, add? (or blaching, or sauteeing, etc.) You still have to toss it with some oil. Does roasting it carmelize it? Maybe, if you had a commercial oven that goes up to 500-600 degrees! It may be unrealistic in our home ovens.

Many times restaruants "sensationalize" cooking methods to make them more appealing....but what is the reality? Does one need to "roast" spinach? Whatever.

I find that simply tossing HOT, freshly roasted, veggies with raw spinach makes a lovely warm winter salad....no roasting of spinach required....and alot less time.

Tracy Reifkind said...

ajam00,

I love my PC!

I find that I don't actually "cook" collard greens in the PC...this is what I do....

When my beans, stock, soup (whatever) is DONE, I let the pressure come down until the "button" descends, and then I open the PC, add in the collard greens at this time (ususally I stack the "de-ribbed' leaves, cut into strips, I then repalce the lid, lock it down and let it sit for at least 15 minutes, it not more.... Try cooking them in the "residual heat" (I wrote a blogpost about residual heat within the last year...I think)

I don't understand why most recipes suggest cooking collard greens to death! I don't get it at all! for one thing they turn brown...who wants to eat brown veggies? And the other thing is that they become mushy...as you describe. Collard grrens just DO NOT take that long to cook, in my experience!

Collard greens are one of my, absolute, favorite soup greens,and inexpensive to boot for the volume, and nutrition they add to meals.

Keep on, keeping on, girlfriend and you'll figure it out and soon you'll start writing your own blogpost recipes!