Roasting Vegetables to Perfection

comments (2) January 29th, 2009

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Click To Enlarge Photo: Scott Phillips

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Roasting vegetables is an act of culinary magic. This basic pro­cess enhances and intensifies the flavors of nearly every vegetable. Tomatoes slowly shrink, their flavors concentrating to a sweet potency. Roasted peppers take on a strong, earthy taste. The magic lies in simplicity—as few as three ingredients can create a full-flavored dish: oil, salt, and the vegetable itself. You can also elaborate on the flavor theme with an ensemble of herbs, spices, and vinegars. But I usually prefer to let a vegetable’s own flavors sing, and sing they will if the vegetable’s gone directly from garden to kitchen with little ado.

By definition, roasting involves cooking food uncovered in an oven or by exposure to open heat. Most references to roasting refer to a method involving meat, but in recent years, roasted root vegetables have become quite the rage—and for good reason. Roasting needn’t be bound by definition or by trends. Most of your summer produce will respond delectably to roasting, with luscious and healthful results.

Slow or fast, roasting yields great flavor
You can roast vegetables in a slow oven, up to 325°F, or a fast oven, with a temperature as high as 500°F. The oven temperature will depend on the type of vegetable, as some work best with long, slow cooking and others with quick, hot methods. Slow roasting works especially well with carrots or other root vegetables. Many vegetables are easily adapted to a range of temperatures; you should feel free to experiment with your fresh produce.

Roasting temperature will affect the vegetables’ final taste. Lower temperatures dehydrate vegetables and sweeten their flavor; medium range temperatures cook evenly throughout and round out the flavor of the vegetables; and high, quick heat usually caramelizes vegetables but leaves them juicy and al dente.The secret to great roasted vegetables is to use impeccably fresh produce; seasonal produce is usually most flavorful.

Some of you will balk at the idea of turning on your oven in the warm weather, but there are benefits to roasting versus grilling. With grilling, smaller sized vegetables will fall through the grill grates (unless you have a grilling basket). Grilling gives a delicious smoky and charred flavor, but that’s not always the taste you want for your menu. And not everyone has a grill, especially those who live in apartments. Even if you do grill, it’s not always easy or convenient to light a wood- or charcoal-fired grill.

Sliced garlic
A little olive oil, rosemary, vinegar, salt, and garlic will imbue rapid-roasted tomatoes with added flavor.

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Comments (2)

Ruth writes: Sorry, wallace3, but we don't have a "favorites" feature on VegetableGardener.com. You can, however, print the article if you like, or you can bookmark the url for future reference.
Posted: 8:55 am on December 8th
wallace3 writes: Why can't i save this article - like we can on fine gardeing site?
Posted: 6:05 pm on December 7th
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