Sunday, December 5, 2010

For Flavorful Veg, Roast, Don't Boil!

We all know that veggies are good for us, but many people don't like the taste of veggies...or at least they don't think they do.  I believe that the reason so many people dislike veggies is because so often veggies are prepared by boiling.  Not only does boiling reduce the nutritional benefits of vegetables, it does nothing to improve their flavor.  Whenever someone tells me they don't like beets or brussels sprouts, I tell them that it's probably because they've always had them boiled. 

A great way to prepare many different vegetables is roasting.  I've already talked about roasting pumpkin and other winter squash, but it's important to note that many root vegetables and green vegetables develop incredible flavor by roasting, while still retaining nutrients, texture, and vibrant color. 

Some great vegetables for roasting include:
Brussels Sprouts
Green Beans

The process for most veggies almost couldn't be more simple.  Preheat your oven to 425 F (you can use a cooler oven if you wish, it will just take longer).  In a shallow pan, such as a sheet pan or a 9 x 13 pan (covered with aluminum foil for ease of cleaning if you wish), spray a light coating of cooking spray, then drizzle in one to two tablespoons of olive oil.  Put your prepared veggies in the pan.  For asparagus, prepared means cut off the woody ends.  For brussels sprouts, cut in half.  For broccoli or cauliflower, cut into florets of the size you like.  For green beans, parsnips, etc., cut into pieces of a size you like.  Toss the prepared veggies in the pan until they are nicely coated with the olive oil.  Toss on just a little salt and pepper if you'd like.  Put the pan in the oven and roast, taking them out occasionally to toss them around, until they are tender and a bit browned. 

I said "almost" couldn't be more simple because there is at least one thing that is more simple:  beets.  For beets, rinse them a bit, cut off the greens, cut off the root, wrap them in foil to make packets (unless they're huge I usually put three in a packet), and toss them in a preheated 425 F. oven.  Be careful the foil packets are sealed so the sugary juice from the beets doesn't drip in your oven.  Leave them alone until they're done, about an hour and fifteen minutes for medium to medium-large beets.  Then just put the packets somewhere to cool.  When cool, open the packets, peel off the skin, and cut into wedges.  They're as sweet as candy!

All of these veggies are fantastic just roasted with oil, salt, and pepper, but don't forget, you can still be creative with seasonings and sauces for your roasted veggies.  For example, sometimes it's nice to drizzle on a little more olive oil, sauteed garlic, and lemon zest.  Some roasted veggies are great with toasted hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts and maybe a little butter.  Green beans and halved or quartered mushrooms are great together, with a bit of thyme.  Brussels sprouts are fantastic with a splash (about one tablespoon) of balsamic vinegar added in the last couple minutes of cooking.

So don't settle for boring, unappetizing, and often stinky boiled vegetables, and give the complex flavors of roasted veggies a try!

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