Roasting Veggies 101

Nine inches of snow blankets the wooded backyard.
The backyard looks serene blanketed in white. We got about nine inches by the end of the weekend.

We got our first significant snowfall last weekend. I used the unexpected snow day to prep some of the veggies I had around (including acorn squash from a recent Hungry Harvest delivery). It was a perfect time to make some kale chips! They were a great snack to have around whenever the munchies hit. Even my 3-year old is a fan.

Roasting is my favorite way to cook so many veggies. It intensifies the natural flavor of the vegetables and it’s easy, especially when you keep a few tips in mind. My three rules for roasting:

  1. Use a hot oven. I always roast at 425 degrees or above.
  2. Don’t crowd the pan. I think this is the most important rule. If your vegetables are too close and crowded as they cook, they’ll steam instead of roast. A nice big sheet pan (I use a 12 x 17 most times), even two if needed, leaves space for air flow around your veggies and help guarantee nice browned crispy results.
  3. Add enough oil…but depending on what veggie, “enough” definitely varies. Generally, one to two tablespoons is enough to coat the pan and bubble up at the edges of your veggies as they roast – it’s like a little mini-fry that gives a crispy edge.

Three quick recipes:

Cheesy Roasted Acorn Squash

Two acorn squash being prepped for roasting.
These two squash were ready for roasting!
  • 2 small acorn squash, seeded and slices in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh (or 1 tsp. dried) thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a big sheet pan (I used 12 x 17) with olive oil cooking spray.

Place sliced squash in a big bowl. Add garlic, thyme, salt and olive oil. Toss to coat squash with oil and seasoning. Pour everything onto the prepared pan. Roast for 15 minutes. Toss, sprinkle on Parmesan and roast for 7-10 minutes more, until a fork easily pierces the flesh.

Scrape up the squash and any crispy cheese on the pan, pile into a bowl and chow.

Crispy Roast Potatoes

  • 2-3 potatoes, scrubbed and either peeled or with skin on
  • 2 small onions, 2 shallots or a mix of both, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. fresh rosemary or thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)

Dice potatoes in bite-sized chunks and add to a big sheet pan (I use 12 x 17). Dice onions and/or shallots to roughly the same size and add to the sheet pan. Sprinkle on salt and drizzle on oil. Toss everything together with your hands. Make sure all the potatoes get coated with oil and seasonings. Spread into an even, spaced-out layer. Roast for 17-22 minutes (depending on the size of your diced potatoes), tossing halfway through the cooking time. Potatoes should be nicely browned and crispy on the edges.

These are a tasty accompaniment to any meal at any time of day. Here, we had them as part of Saturday brunch, alongside farro tabbouleh with feta and dill and a fruit and egg platter.

Enjoy!

Kale Chips (a.k.a. – Roast Kale)

  • 1 bunch kale (1 pound)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. spice of your choosing (optional) – I used chili powder and Cajun seasoning

These break the rule of a super hot oven for roasting. Because they’re leaves, too high heat will scorch them. So for kale chips, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat two sheet pans (I use 12 x 17) with olive oil spray.

Rinse kale thoroughly and pat dry. Make sure it’s as dry as possible. Cut the hard stems out of each leaf – they take longer to cook and can cause the finished chips to get soggy. Tear the leaves into biggish (2- to 3-inch) pieces and add to large bowl. Add salt and seasoning, if using. Toss everything together – be sure that the leaves get some oil on and look shiny.

Dump everything onto the prepared sheet pans (half of greens on each pan). Spread into a single, roomy layer. Roast for 15 to 17 minutes, tossing halfway through. Take the chips out of the oven. Pieces that look nice and browned and crispy on the edges can be taken off the pan and set aside. If you have any thick pieces (like stems that weren’t trimmed) that aren’t thoroughly dry, pop them back in the oven for a few minutes. Then pile your chips into a bowl and crunch away.

Yummy yum.

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