Thank you all so much for your positive responses to my new series, it’s so lovely to know that you are all with me 🙂
So, here we go…part 1: roasting vegetables
If you recall from my introduction post, the inspiration behind this series is a friend of mine who is on a weight loss journey and who needs some ideas for making vegetables interesting. For me, vegetables are THE most interesting food, but for some people, it’s a challenge to include more of these wonderful plant foods in their meals, so I’m hoping to provide him, and maybe you, with new ideas..
Starting with the wonderful world of roasted vegetables.
For me, this is my favourite way to enjoy vegetables. If all you ever do is steam or boil vegetables, I fear that you may not find them sufficiently interesting for long, especially if you don’t have much love for vegetables in the first place.
Roasting them not only celebrates their flavour but also adds some colour, crunch or caramelisation, sometimes all three. How wonderful 🙂
This is not about having your lovely vegetables swimming in oil, actually, I think that too much oil spoils the produce. That’s why I use spray olive oil. And I mean a 100% olive oil in a spray bottle, not one of these ‘1 cal per spray’ offerings that are anything but 100% oil. And I don’t use a spray because I’m limiting my intake of oil, good fats are so important in your diet, I pile on the olive oil, coconut oil, rapeseed oil at will, but for roasting vegetables I think that a spray works best. A light mist of oil is all the vegetables need, like this cauliflower..
So, here’s my method…let’s start with the cauliflower, this is honestly the best way to eat cauliflower..
Heat your oven to 200C (mine is a fan assisted oven – try between 200C and 220C in a standard convection oven – experiment until you find your perfect temperature)
Take your cauliflower and remove the outer green leaves
Chop the cauliflower (all or half of it, however much you want to cook) into florets and then cut some in half or quarters as necessary, aiming to get even sized pieces
Spread in a single layer across a baking pan
Spray with olive oil so that each floret has a couple of sprays on it
In the oven and roast for 45-50 minutes (depending on the size of your pieces) until you see nice browned crunchy edges
NOTE: After 20 minutes take the pan out and move the cauliflower around and spray with another light mist of oil, then put back into the oven and leave it to roast
And that’s it – really simple, just chuck it in and leave it basically! And it’s so good!!
And this works with all sorts of vegetables. All that might differ is the cooking time, you need to keep an eye on your pan to gauge the time required…this broccoli didn’t need as long…and the tops were so wonderfully crunchy..The spring onion below needed a lot less time, more like about 15 minutes, and again, so tasty!
With the sweet potato and courgette you need longer, and hang it out as long as you can, vegetables really benefit from that extra 5-10 minutes to get a really nice finish. I don’t always bother to peel my sweet potato, I like the skins, so consider just giving your sweet potato a wash then chop it into even sizes to roast..
As you will see below, you really can roast everything. And yes, those are radishes in the photo below and they are brussel sprouts in the top photo..if you think you don’t like sprouts, try roasting them! Just remove any grubby outer leaves, cut them in half, spray with oil and roast, the crunchy edges it creates are so good. The radishes and sprouts probably only need 25-35 minutes roasting.
People are often concerned with how much oil you need to cook aubergines, but with roasting, just the spray is enough..and look at the browned edges, so good! It’s all, so good!! I keep saying it because it’s true!
Something I typically roast is a mixture of peppers, red onion/shallots, garlic and often mushrooms too, these are favourites with my husband..and roasting shallots and red onion really brings out their natural sweetness. If you leave them long enough, the onions start to caramelise, which is just so good!!!! (And really scrape all of the baked on bits from the pan, they’re the best bits!!!)
Peppers and onions have a high water content and are therefore less dense than some of the other vegetables above, consequently they only need 25-30 minutes in the oven.
So..to roast your vegetables, follow the guidelines above but assess the time required based on the texture of your vegetables – practice makes perfect.
I often roast several trays of vegetables at a time, we always have a choice of several on the table. Try all of your favourites but also something new; butternut squash is wonderful roasted, again, I leave the skin on; cauliflower is a household favourite; try swede and pumpkin; and carrots work beautifully…you’ll see more roasted vegetables as this series goes on.
And if you’ve got leftovers, they are great cold the next day, or whizzed into dips…but more about that later…;)
Coming up in the next post: the wonderful world of spices – adding flavour to your vegetables.
I hope you like my roasting ideas, please do ask me if you have any questions, or add your ideas in the comments..