Roasting brings out the best in vegetables

June 30, 1996|By Judith Blake | Judith Blake,SEATTLE TIMES Knight-Ridder News Service

When you're looking for interesting ways to cook vegetables, think roasting. You'll have tasteful company. Oven-roasted vegetables are turning up on many restaurant menus and in cookbooks that dote on veggies.

"What you're doing [in roasting] is concentrating all those natural sugars in the vegetables," says chef Brooke Vosika. "You're going for that golden-brown effect and a mellow flavor."

Before roasting, vegetables are usually coated with a small amount of oil and perhaps a little salt, pepper, herbs or other seasonings. Roasting temperatures usually range from about 400 to 500 degrees. Barbara Kafka, in her book, "Roasting: A Simple Art," roasts everything from beef to broccoli at 500 degrees.

High temperatures combined with longer roasting times tend to yield exterior charring. For a mellower result, cook at a lower temperature. Remember, though, that it's the browning and caramelizing that produce roasting's flavor, and this requires a fairly high temperature. Temperatures below 400 are more like baking than roasting.

If you're roasting different vegetables together, choose ones that need the same cooking time. Kafka suggests these cooking times, for example: small beets, garlic heads or cloves, parsnips, potato wedges and small onion wedges, 30 minutes; broccoli, mushrooms and bell peppers cut into 1- to 2-inch squares, 15 minutes. The vegetables will need to be turned once or twice during roasting.

Equipment is a simple matter in roasting vegetables. A roasting pan, baking pan or cookie sheet will suffice. The vegetables should not be touching in the pan.

Roasted beet chutney

4 servings

4 medium red beets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon peeled and finely minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons finely chopped serrano peppers (or substitute jalapeno peppers for a milder version)

1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the beets, leaving about 1 inch of stem ends. Scrub the beets and put into a small baking dish with the olive oil and water. Cover and bake about 45 minutes, or until tender when pierced. Remove from the oven and cool.

Peel the beets and cut into 1/4 -inch dice. Combine with the ginger, peppers, peanut oil, salt, pepper, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice and cayenne. Refrigerate 2 hours to blend the flavors.

Per serving: calories 129; protein 1 gram; fat 11 grams; carbohydrates 9 grams; sodium 463 milligrams; saturated fat 2 grams; monounsaturated fat 7 grams; polyunsaturated fat 2 grams; cholesterol 0 milligrams

(From "Chez Panisse Vegetables" by Alice Waters)

Roasted red onion rings

4 servings

4 medium red onions, peeled and sliced 1/4 -inch thick

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Place rack in middle of oven. Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Put onions into a bowl. Add the olive oil and salt, stirring to coat the onions. Transfer to a roasting pan or jelly-roll pan. Roast 20 minutes. Stir and continue roasting an additional 20 minutes. Most of the onions will have blackened edges at this point. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. (These onions are wonderful with hamburgers or turkey burgers.)

Per serving: calories 199; protein 2 grams; fat 14 grams; carbohydrates 17 grams; sodium 266 milligrams; saturated fat 2 grams; monounsaturated fat 10 grams; polyunsaturated fat 1 gram; cholesterol 0 milligrams

(From "Roasting -- A Simple Art" by Barbara Kafka)

Roasted asparagus

4 servings

1 1/2 pounds asparagus

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Break off the ends of the asparagus. If desired, remove the scales with a sharp knife. Wash and pat dry.

Spread the asparagus in a single layer in a baking pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Roast in oven 12 to 15 minutes. The asparagus can be served hot, at room temperature or cold.

Per serving: calories 141; protein 2 grams; fat 14 grams; carbohydrates 4 grams; sodium 71 milligrams; saturated fat 2 grams; monounsaturated fat 10 grams; polyunsaturated fat 1 gram; cholesterol 0 milligrams

(From "From an Italian Garden" by Judith Barrett)

Bright carrot slices

Makes 6 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

10 medium carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut across into 1/2 -inch slices

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Place rack on second level from the bottom of oven. Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Put melted butter and carrot slices in a 12-by-14-by-2-inch roasting pan. Toss until slices are lightly coated. Arrange slices in pan so that they touch as little as possible. Roast 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, combine orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, ginger, salt and cumin; stir well. Pour glaze over carrots. Using a spatula, turn slices over in the liquid. Roast 10 minutes longer. Carrots should be easy to pierce with a tip of a sharp knife but still firm.

Per serving: calories 118; protein 2 grams; fat 4 grams; carbohydrates 20 grams; sodium 134 milligrams; saturated fat 3 grams; monounsaturated fat 1 gram; polyunsaturated fat 0 grams; cholesterol 11 milligrams

(From "Roasting -- A Simple Art" by Barbara Kafka)

Pub Date: 6/30/96

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