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Culinary Magic!

Do you want to know the secret to making vegetables taste absolutely amazing?  Would you like to work a little crazy-easy culinary magic?

It’s so simple…put vegetables in the oven and roast them!  The magic happens in the oven and the result is an incredibly tasty caramelized flavor!  Whether you are an avid expert at roasting vegetables, or you are just starting, we hope these tips are helpful!

Why should you try it?

When our kids were small, we were told “all you have to do is put a vegetable in front of them 14 times and they will begin to eat it.”  Maybe this works with some kids, but it DID NOT work with ours!  You can’t just put canned green beans in front of kids and expect them to all of a sudden start loving them — that is insane!  (Remember the definition of insanity…doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results).  The key is changing up the taste and how the veggies are prepared!

This, of course, doesn’t apply just to kids — roasting vegetables is an excellent way to get a picky “I don’t like vegetables” eater at any age to gain a new appreciation of how great veggies can taste!  And, there are so many ideas…crispy green beans, sweet potato fries, beets, parsnips, okra, cabbage…the possibilities are endless!  If you have ever wondered “what do I do with (fill in the blank vegetable)?”…roasting is the perfect solution!

In our house, my husband is frequently heard saying “If I could have roasted veggies every day, I would be happy!” and many of our kids’ favorite meals involve roasted veggies.  But it’s not just us!  Here are a few comments we have heard from Eat REAL America members:

“I had no idea I liked Brussels sprouts until I put them in the oven!”

“I had no idea roasting vegetables was this easy…now that I know how easy it is, we’ll be roasting vegetables all the time!”

“I have made roasted vegetables multiple times now…my husband requests them!”

“I had never tried roasted beets before.  I now know I like beets and turnips, and love beet hummus!”

What does it mean to “roast?”

Roasting is a dry heat cooking method where the indirect heat in the oven cooks the food evenly on all sides.  Low-temperature roasting works well for meat, but vegetables benefit most from higher temperatures, such as 400 degrees or more.  When vegetables are cooked in the oven (with a little fat, like olive oil), the flavors are greatly enhanced and intensified.

What is the difference between baking and roasting?

Both baking and roasting happen in the oven.  The primary difference is roasting is done with foods that begin with a solid structure (such as meats and vegetables), whereas baking involves foods that develop a solid structure as they cook (such as muffins or cakes).  Roasting vegetables is typically done at higher temperatures (400 degrees or higher) and baking is often done at lower temperatures (below 375 degrees).  Baked foods also may have fat in them, but roasted foods typically have the fat (such as olive oil) on the outside of the food to help with the browning and caramelization as they cook.

How do you do it?  For basic roasted vegetables:


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (or higher, up to 500 degrees).
  2. Place vegetables, cut into bite size pieces, in a large bowl (or you can go ahead and place them on the baking sheet and add oil and seasonings and toss while on the baking sheet.  Your choice…sometimes it can be easier, and less messy, to use a bowl).
  3. Add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp pepper.  Stir until well coated.
  4. Spread vegetables onto a baking pan in a single layer (for easy clean-up you can place foil or parchment paper on the baking pan).
  5. Roast for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, toss to stir, place back in the oven and roast another 10-15 minutes until browned and tender.  Time will vary depending on the type of vegetable, but most vegetables will usually take 20-30 minutes, with the exception of asparagus…it cooks perfectly in about 10 minutes.


Check out this video from Zonya to see how easy it is to make Roasted Butternut Squash with Wilted Greens, Cranberries and Pecans!

The beauty of roasted vegetables is olive oil, salt and pepper is all you need for a simple and delicious result!  However, there are also endless seasoning combinations you can add…just a few ideas include:

Sweet and Savory:  1 Tbsp pure maple syrup + 1/2 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp dried thyme + 1-2 Tbsp olive oil + 1/4 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp pepper (ideal for winter squash such as butternut or acorn squash)

Indian-Inspired:  1/2 tsp lemon zest + 1 Tbsp curry powder + 1 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp turmeric + 1-2 Tbsp olive oil + 1/4 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp pepper (works great with cauliflower!)

Mexican-Inspired:  1/2 tsp chili powder + 1/2 tsp ground cumin + 1-2 Tbsp olive oil + 1/4 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp pepper

Honey-Mustard:  2 Tbsp Dijon mustard + 1 Tbsp honey + 2 Tbsp olive oil + 1/4 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp pepper (adding 2 Tbsp of fresh rosemary would be great too!)

You can also add some simple toppings to take your roasted veggies over the top!  Some great ideas include toasted nuts, dressings (such as in the Warm Winter Vegetable Salad), drizzles (like balsamic reduction in the Orange Balsamic Roasted Okra), cheese (goat, blue, feta and parmiagiano reggiano) and fresh herbs (try the Asparagus with Catalan Vinaigrette).

IMG_2839Eat REAL America also has delicious ideas how to turn those great-tasting roasted vegetables into hummus, tacos, pizzas, and more.   Check out the Roasted Beet HummusButternut Squash TacosRoasted Broccoli Pizza, and Roasted Eggplant Pasta.


What vegetables can you roast?

It would be simpler to tell you what you CANNOT roast, but we haven’t found one yet!

Zonya Says...

I know most people get the meat going and then as an afterthought.... "what veggie will I serve....oh roasted would be nice... but not enough time now."  Don't let this bad habit live another minute!  All you have to do is THINK about the veggies FIRST (instead of the entree first) and get those bad boys into the oven and then get to work on the rest of the meal.  Soon you will realize, the roasted veggies ARE THE MAIN ENTREE, and from a hands on perspective, really is LICKETY SPLIT to make!

What about preserving the nutrients?!

Boiling, steaming, baking, sautéing...there is no one cooking method or preparation that is completely foolproof at preserving 100% of the vital nutrients that vegetables offer.  The bottom line to getting the most nutrients from your vegetables need to eat them!  Don’t force yourself to eat something that doesn’t taste good…that will never last!  And don’t get hung up on how the preparation method affects the nutrients…the key is to make sure you are eating plenty of vegetables every day!  Use common sense of course…deep fried okra or cheese-stuffed jalapeños probably shouldn’t be your “go to” veggie.  Raw vegetables are fantastic, but you can also get great nutrition through cooked vegetables…and roasting is an excellent option!

Can you roast frozen vegetables?

Yes, you can!  But, be aware that the flavor of roasted frozen vegetables will not be as intense as roasting fresh vegetables.  The moisture retained in frozen vegetables makes it a little trickier to get the same result so some recommend thawing the frozen vegetables first.  It is also important to not crowd the pan!  Too much moisture can result in steaming the veggies (a mushier result) instead of roasting (a more crispy, caramelized result).

How do you avoid soggy roasted vegetables?  There are a few key things to remember!


  • Cut vegetables in uniform size so they cook at the same rate.
  • Don’t use too much oil…about 1 Tbsp per 3 cups of vegetables.  The oil, such as olive oil, helps the vegetables brown evenly and faster.  See our oil coaching tip for info on various types of oil.
  • Try pre-heating your pan in the oven first while you prepare the vegetables.  This will help the vegetables immediately start to caramelize.
  • Don’t crowd the pan!  You want the vegetables to caramelize…not steam!

There are many fantastic ideas on Eat REAL America to enjoy roasted vegetables!  So, if you or someone you know are struggling to like (let alone love) vegetables, try roasting them!  Their mind-blowing flavor may even make you and your loved ones CRAVE them!

Leave A Comment

4 Responses to Culinary Magic!

  1. I think I have a habit of crowding the pan–more is better theory–and that is why sometimes my vegetables are mushy. Makes sense after reading the article that too much crowding=too much moisture therefore steaming happens. Thanks for the tip!

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