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Roasted Vegetables

In the kitchen, little is as straightforward as roasting vegetables. Olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat your vegetables of choice, which then get bronzed in the oven while you busy yourself with other tasks. But sometimes you face a tray full of limp, soggy vegetables that leave much to be desired when you were aiming for crispy and caramelized. Because it’s not such a cinch to perfect the art of roasting vegetables.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind before we dive into the minutiae of temperatures and rack positions:

  1. Aim to cut the vegetables approximately the same size.
  2. Don’t overcrowd the baking sheet, or the vegetables will steam. Aim for a single layer with space around each vegetable.
  3. Keep an eye on the pan if you’re roasting more than one type of vegetable, since they cook at different rates. You can either roast different types in separate pans, or roast in stages (removing what’s already cooked).
  4. As a general rule of thumb, for every pound of vegetables, use 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
  5. Skip the parchment paper and foil and roast directly on a baking sheet.

Method 1: Standard Method

This method is consistent and dependable and should be memorized for good results every time.

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Toss vegetables in oil, salt, and pepper and arrange in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the middle rack. Roast for 20 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, flip the vegetables so they get evenly roasted. Roast an additional 10 minutes or until cooked through and caramelized.

Method 2: Hard Roast

This method is less conventional but works superbly to get a charred skin and vegetables that are cooked through. The oven floor gets exceptionally hot, and when you place the sheet pan over it, the vegetables get a “sear” that starts the caramelization process. The heat in the rest of the oven cooks the inside of the vegetable. This method works best with hard vegetables (potatoes, squash, beets, carrots, etc.).

Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Toss vegetables in oil, salt, and pepper and arrange in a single layer. Place the baking sheet directly on your oven floor. Roast for 10 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, move or flip the vegetables so they get evenly roasted. Check on the vegetables every few minutes until they’re just cooked through, about another 10 minutes in total.

Verdict:

The char and caramelization of method #2 is incomparable. But it’s not the most convenient method. My fire alarm went off, and flipping the vegetables midway is uncomfortable at such high heat. But the results speak for themselves, and I would say it’s worth the inconvenience. Method 1 is simpler and more dependable. Try both!

(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 693)

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