November 18, 2009

Perfect Roast Vegies

There is just something so scrumptious about a simple and rustic dish of roasted vegetables, steaming hot and fresh out of the oven. Not only can roasting vegetables be healthy, but it gives them a more smoky, rich and mellow flavour with the oven doing all the work. Natural sugars caramelize and the vegetables become sweeter, more palatable and mouth-watering, even for devoted carnivores!

It is a dish that you can toss together using just about any vegetable you have on hand, and there is no need to make things more difficult than necessary. A bonus is that all vegetables can be roasted unpeeled (which actually imparts more flavour) and you can roast them whole if there is no time for chopping! I’ve prepared a basic guide on how I usually roast my vegetables at home, learning from trial and error, to create the most golden brown, crisp and tender batch of roasted vegies :-)

Roast Desiree Potato, Capsicum, Mushroom and Whole Garlic Clove with Dried Thyme

- Combine a variety of seasonal vegetables such as corn, fennel, beetroot, onions, capsicum, asparagus, mushrooms, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, pumpkin, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, swedes, broccoli etc.

- Don’t be afraid to try different combinations. You’d be surprised by the vegies that take on a surprisingly delicious flavour when roasted. For example, pungent garlic becomes juicy and sweet when roasted unpeeled, and the sharp aniseed flavours of fennel softly caramelise into sweetness.

- Harder root vegetables such as potatoes can be parboiled for 10-15 minutes before roasting to ensure a fluffy centre.

- Try to incorporate fresh herbs and spices – they carry a heap of health benefits and pack lots of aromatic flavours into vegetables when roasted together. Herbs can be left whole as sprigs or roughly chopped.

- A few ideas: Dill goes well with tomatoes, potatoes and beetroot. Mint is nice with corn, asparagus, fennel, zucchini and capsicum. Rosemary is a good complement to onions, potatoes, carrot and turnips, as Thyme is to eggplant, pumpkin, mushrooms and garlic.

- A rough guide on cooking times (this obviously depends on how big the vegetables are, how many you use and how well-done you prefer them):
60 minutes - Beetroot, Potatoes (If not parboiled)
50 minutes - Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes
25-30 minutes - Zucchini, Eggplant, Capsicum, Fennel, Carrots, Tomatoes, Shallots/Onions, Potatoes (Parboiled)
10-15 minutes - Asparagus, Corn (after soaking for an hour in water), Mushrooms

- Try to roast your vegetables in a single layer to ensure even cooking and to allow them to crisp up.

- Duck fat produces the best, most crispy and flavoursome roast potatoes.

- Olive oil is the best all-rounder. Try to avoid using vegetable fat, because it is loaded with transfatty acids – not good for you!

- Don’t use butter, because it will burn at the high temperatures you are using.

Roast Pumpkin, Eggplant, Capsicum, Asparagus and Mushrooms with Rosemary and Thyme

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C.
2. Cut the vegetables so that they are all roughly the same size.
3. Put about 1 tablespoon of olive oil or animal fat into a roasting tray (sometimes I line it with foil when I'm lazy to wash the tray afterwards) and place it in the oven until it becomes runny, hot and spits.
4. Carefully take the tray out of the oven, add the vegetables that take the longest to cook and turn them to coat all over with the oil/fat.
5. Transfer the tray back into the oven and roast on a higher rack, taking it out to add vegetables when needed so that they will all finish cooking at the same time. Remember to turn the vegies while doing so to ensure that they are all coated in the oil. Drizzle with more if necessary.
6. When there is about 25 minutes left, add in your preferred herbs and spices, along with lots of sea salt and cracked pepper.
7. After removing the roasting tray from the oven, finish with a generous squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of balsamic vinegar (the secret ingredient!) to boost the flavours and balance the smokiness and sweetness of the vegetables.

 Roast Fennel, Potato and Capsicum

1 comment:

Damo said...

made perfectly everytime:)