We’ve talked about and made roast vegetables in my “Evening Meals” classes on some occasions. I suppose I’ve been roasting veg for years and never thought that people might struggle to deliver what they consider as the perfect roast veg.
What is the perfect roast veg?
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, 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.
Before we start here are a few things you should know about roasting vegetables.
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. I do have a brilliant recipe that uses chats or new potatoes, and they come out just like they’ve been roasted. But we’re talking about roasting today.
- 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. I do have a quick recipe for new potatoes or chats that will have them golden brown in no time at all.
- 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. I have to say when I don’t fancy cooking dinner, (as long as I’ve got an hour before it needs to be served up), it’s quite often roast veg at our place.
Rules For Roasting Vegetables
- 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 veg small, go closer to the 180°c mark. Give your veg time. Don’t think of roasting veg 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. Depending on how large you’ve cut them of course. So again, here’s a hint, if you want them fast cut them smaller. If you want brown veg, 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.
- Don’t overcrowd your pan. If you have all your veg 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 this can stop airflow. The less the vegetables touch each other, the more they can brown.
- Make sure you’ve cut your veg 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. More on that in rule 5.
- 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.
- You can add different types of veg 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 I want everything to go in at the same time you need to cut the carrots and beets a little smaller or thinner if you like. 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.
- I roast veg that some may not have thought about like Brussel sprouts or Broccoli. These can 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 nicer 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 veg looking just that. Grey unappetising veg isn’t great. It will also ensure they cook through.
My Quick Recipe For Roast Vegetables
- 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 Tbsp olive oil or more
- 1 tsp Salt (I use pink Murray Valley, and probably about 1½ tsp see how you go)
- freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped to serve if you like
- 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.
Here are a few things I might serve with my roast veg.