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My top 6 tips for perfect Roast Vegetables

White platter with roasted vegetables on top

We’ve talked about and made roast vegetables in my “Evening Meals” classes on many occasions.  I suppose I’ve been roasting veg for years and never thought that people value a little help to deliver perfect roast vegetables.

What is the perfect roast vegetable?

Well, it’s a personal choice.  The media would lead you to believe that everyone wants their potatoes crunchy on the outside but I can tell you, some want light golden brown, or not too crunchy, and others want them darker and really crunchy.   Some of my students were surprised to hear that some takeaway restaurants or even dine in restaurants deep fry their spuds after parboiling them.  They do this rather than roasting because it’s quicker and can be done to order quite easily.

Classes if you are local (Melbourne) or Zooms from anywhere 🙂

The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that the centre needs to have a light and fluffy texture.  So before I go into how I make my perfect roast vegetables, I need to explain what I think they are, so we’re on the same page.  I like to see a fair amount of caramelisation on the outside without compromising the moist tender inside.

That pretty much sums it up.  There are a few ways to get there, and it’s all up to how much time you have and your preference.  Me, I seem to always be in a hurry. I always think of other meals while my oven is on.  I’ve added extra butternut pumpkin to the pan, so I can make a beautiful roasted butternut soup the next day.  If your oven is on it doesn’t cost any more to have more pans in there, so have a look at how I use leftover veg in a crustless quiche.

Butternut pumpkin and potatoes roasted in a pan.
Roast vegetables in a roasting pan

Understanding the vegetable roasting process

  • You need fat and or sugar:  You can’t develop caramelisation without fat, (oil) or some sort of sugar. Yes, you have to!   If you want perfect roast veg, you can’t be afraid of it.   Of course, you don’t have to add sugar. The more natural sugars that are present in the variety of potato you’ve chosen will help determine how brown they’ll be.
  • New potatoes aren’t so good: They have too much water in them, and that water will prevent them from browning.  So when you’re shopping don’t go for those little-washed spuds. It might be an easy choice regarding their preparation, but they won’t make the best roast spuds.
  • Roasting veg takes time. Usually around an hour, depending on how big or small they’ve been cut.  Cut them small, and they won’t take as long leave them whole, and they may take longer.  We often have roast veg for dinner at our place.  I have a little Breville smart oven which I’ll talk about in another post.  I love it. Having this small oven allows me to roast or bake anytime I want, without cranking up the big oven.  Great for using less power and on hot days when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.

Rules for Roasting Vegetables

There are many ways to achieve good roast veg, but on weeknights, I’m not going to parboil my veg before roasting them. So here’s my mid-week method, the one that takes less of my time.

  1. First, preheat your oven. I know you know that but do you know why it’s important? The actual temp can be anywhere from 180°c to 200°c, and it will work fine. Although if you’ve cut your vegetables smaller, go closer to the 180°c mark.   Give your vegetables time.  Don’t think of roasting vegetables if you’ve only got 20 minutes to get dinner on the table.  It can take 45 minutes to an hour to get great roast spuds.  So again, here’s a hint, if you want them fast cut them smaller.  If you want brown vegetables, you need to start browning them from the onset so preheat your oven.  If you put them in while the oven is coming to temperature, they’ll end up drying out. Popping them in at the right temperature does two things for you. The browning will start as soon as the outsides of the potatoes reach temperature, and because the surface will dry out quickly, the moisture inside the potato will be trapped in so they stay soft and fluffy on the inside.
  2. Don’t overcrowd your pan. If you have all your vegetables crammed into the same pan, they’ll steam instead of roast.  Just like if you overcrowd your fry pan when browning off meat.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Don’t use a pan with high sides, as this will limit airflow.  The less the vegetables touch each other, the more they can brown.
  3. Make sure you’ve cut your vegetables into the correct sizes. When I say that, I mean if you’re doing a whole tray of potatoes you need to make sure they’re all about the same size.  Otherwise, some will cook faster than others leaving some either over or underdone.
  4. If your oven doesn’t heat evenly. turn your tray around halfway through, just like you would a cake or tray of cookies.  You can also give the vegetables a shake-up or turn them over.  Only do this if they’re not too soft, they’ll firm up as they brown.
  5. You can add different types of vegetables at varying times throughout the roasting period. For instance, carrots and beetroots are pretty hard root vegetables. If you cut them the same size as your potatoes, you’ll find by the time they’re cooked your potatoes will be overcooked.  If you want everything to go in at the same time, you need to cut the carrots and beets a little smaller or thinner.  Rather than cutting them in rounds or discs cut them into batons.  Once you’ve roasted a few times, you’ll get the hang of it.
  6. I roast vegetable that some may not have thought about, like Brussel sprouts or broccoli. These go in later in the roasting period. I trim them, cut them to size and par-cook them in boiling water.  Then refresh them in ice water to stop the cooking process.  Add them to the roasting pan around the last 15-minute mark.  Yes, you do have to par-cook them, or they’ll be hard and uninteresting.  I see loads of pictures on the internet of these brassica being roasted. Trust me; they’ll be a lot tastier if you parboil them first.  If you’ve never tasted charred broccolini, then you’re missing out.  Doing the whole Blanche and refresh thing will help keep your bright green vegetables looking just that.
  7. And what about par steaming them, I like to do this in my Thermomix. You can follow the recipe on Cookidoo or simply peel and cut your veg to size, sit them in your Varoma, spacing them out over both basket and tray if you have a lot. (Make sure not all holes are covered up, you want the steam to vent through evenly). For 1kg of roasting spuds, all you’ll need is 500g of water and set your TM for 16-18 min/Varoma/speed 2. tip them out onto your baking tray, drizzle with plenty of good olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

My quick recipe for Roast Vegetables

You can swap out any veg you like, change the quantity, and it will all work fine.  Just make sure you remember the rules above.

Image of a butternut pumpkin and potatoes roasted in a pan

Perfect Roast Vegetables

4.34 from 6 votes

5 stars tells us you love the recipe

becs-table.com.au
Want prefect roast vegetables? Use the tips in the associated post to create roast vegetables that will be a worthy accompaniment for red meat, chicken, etc.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Course Main
Cuisine British
Servings 4 Or more
Method Conventional

Equipment

  • Oven

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large carrots peeled and cut into chunks smaller than the potatoes
  • 2 parsnips peeled and cut into chunks like the carrot
  • 2 onions peeled and quartered
  • 250 g pumpkin (or sweet potato) cut into chunks about the size of the potatoes
  • 2 medium beetroots cut into sixths around the same size as the carrots. (keep these separate till they go in the pan or you’ll have pink potatoes)
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil or more Don't be scared here, its the oil that gives colour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt I use pink Murray Valley, and probably about 1 1/2 tsp see how you go
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped to serve if you like

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 190ºC
  • Peel and wash all the veg and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Drizzle with oil (Don’t be shy with the oil, they need to be coated all over) and season generously with salt and pepper
  • Tip the vegetables into the roasting tin and cook until they are golden brown and tender. They can take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and fifteen, depending on the size you’ve cut them.

Alright, now go for it.  Remember to make sure you have time to roast, so that you do your vegetables justice.  Once you’ve worked that out, they’re the easiest thing to do.

Want to know more?

Here are a few things I might serve with my roast veg.

8 Comments

  1. 4 stars

    I don’t always use it but duck fat seems to make roast veges that really hit the spot. Not sure how the National Heart Foundation feels about that but what do you think about using duck fat Bec?

    1. I love duck fat. Yes, I agree it probably hasn’t got the heart foundation tick, but what has that tastes awesome. ? I usually grab a jar of it around Christmas time and if we do Christmas in July.

  2. I put my hand in the air to provide baked vegetables for Christmas 2020 where each brings a plate of food to the house where the host is providing the roast meat. Now I have to trial how to prepare baked vegetables.

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