In Season Eating: Roasting Root Vegetables

Tips & Recipes for In-Season Eating, by CSM Owner Megan Squire

(Roasted root vegetables on left, served with Dandelion frittata on right)

How to Roast Root Vegetables

This is one of those recipes that isn’t really worthy of being called a “recipe”. It’s more of a technique. In the winter and spring, locavores here in NC are faced with what I like to call the Beet Conundrum. We’ve basically got a plethora of root vegetables and not enough ways to cook them. Roasting them is the default, so you should know this method first above all others. When you get sick of roasting your root veggies, you can move on to more exotic preparations.

Here’s the basic prep for roasting: You’ll peel/chop the veggies, put them in a bag with olive oil and spices, mix them in the bag, then pour onto a baking sheet and roast on the top rack of a 400-degree oven until tender.  Piece of cake.

Now here’s the details:
What do I mix this stuff in? Use a gallon size zipper bag OR a leftover bread bag OR a leftover produce bag from the grocery store. (You don’t throw those out do you?!? So useful…)

What kinds of veggies? I like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips – all unpeeled, chopped into mouth-sized bites – and I like my beets and turnips peeled. I like to also add an onion, chopped in half lengthwise, then each half chopped into thirds or quarters. You should use whatever hearty, root veggies you have on hand or whatever the farmers are selling at the moment.

How many veggies? Well, this depends a bit on how hungry you are and how big your roasting pan is. These roasted veggies re-heat VERY well so I like to make extra.

How much olive oil? This is a bit of personal preference. You need enough that each piece will touch the oil but you don’t want them dripping with it. Maybe 1 tablespoon per 2 cups of whole vegetables? Put the oil in the bag with the vegetables and see what it looks like. Start with less oil, you can always add more.

How much spice and which ones? Mmm, this is my favorite part. Mince the leaves from a few stalks of rosemary and from a handful of thyme stalks, and blend in some minced garlic (3 or 4 cloves) or garlic powder if you have no garlic on hand, and some salt and pepper. If you are feeling very lazy, get a packet of Good Seasons dressing out of your emergency pantry stash and throw that in the bag instead.

How to cook it? Now that everything’s in the bag, just mix it around until it’s coated nicely. Make sure you have enough oil so that each piece can get some spices stuck to it. Dump it out on the roasting pan, jelly roll pan, or baking sheet. (I like to use a stainless steel half-sheet cake pan.) Pop it in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Run a metal spatula through the veggies to unstick them from the bottom of the pan and flip them over a bit, then pop them back in the oven. Every 10 minutes or so, check that it’s doing ok and that stuff is getting browned but not sticking to the bottom. Stick a fork into one of the veggies and see how it’s doing. The potatoes will take the longest, especially if you left the pieces very large in size.

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