Roasting Vegetables 101: Simple, Seasonal Side Dishes

We’ve been reveling in the recent fall weather; getting out for frequent walks, sitting around the fire down at the back of our property, and relishing the cooler temperatures and lack of bugs. When my husband and I think back to the stress of last fall – buying and selling a house, a sick child, and career shifts – we’re even more grateful for the calm that this season holds for us. Sure, it is busy, but there is a constant peace in our home life now that refuses to be ruffled, even as the bustle of the holidays approaches.

Now that it feels like the autumn chill is here to stay, I like nothing better than coming indoors from invigorating play and cranking up the oven to warm the kitchen – and roast vegetables for the night’s dinner.

Side dishes don’t get much simpler than roasted vegetables. Three ingredients – fresh produce, salt and olive oil – are all that is needed to transform the vegetables from crisper drawer contents to elegant side dish.

The other all-important element? High heat. It brings out the flavors of the vegetables, enhances their natural sweetness, and crisps up the edges into tantalizing bites.

Tips to remember for roasting vegetables

Singles Only

For best results, roast each variety of vegetable in its own pan. Cooking times vary, and some vegetables caramelize far quicker than others. Feel free to tumble them together once they are fully cooked – matchstick carrots and parsnips are lovely together, for example – but do roast them on separate trays.

Uniformity Rules

Try to make your cuts consistent so pieces of vegetables are uniform throughout. This will ensure that they cook evenly and in the same amount of time.

Elbow Room

Don’t crowd the vegetables on the pan. Give them plenty of space so the heat can circulate around them and give maximum color and crispness.

Hot, Hot, Hot

Ideally, roasting temperature should be around 425°F or higher; any lower than that and the vegetables won’t crisp properly.

Shake N’ Bake

Make sure to shake the pan a few times during the roasting period to help ensure even coloring and roasting throughout.

Roasting Vegetables 101: The Autumn Line-Up.

Acorn Squash

Easily my favorite squash to roast! The acorn lends itself well to elegant presentations due to its contrasting dark skin and ochre flesh. Plus the roasting brings out such as sweetness, it is almost a dessert.

  • 1 large acorn squash, washed
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. With a sharp chef’s knife, slice acorn squash in two from stem to stern. With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and discard. Place squash halves, cut side down on the cutting board and, following the natural indentations of the squash, use the knife to cut it into wedges. You should have about 6 wedges per half.

Toss wedges with oil and seasoning and lay, cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes. Using tongs, flip squash wedges over so the other cut side can brown. Bake for another 10 minutes or until soft. Serve warm.

Head here for more on cooking winter squash.

Beets

  • 6 small beets, (about 1 pound) well-washed
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Group beets by 3’s on 2 separate sheets of aluminum foil. Wrap tightly, making sure the package is it as airtight as possible. Place on a baking sheet and bake until beets are slightly soft to the touch, about an hour.

Remove from oven, open packages and cool beets slightly, then trim ends and rub skins off. Slice into quarters. Beets can now be refrigerated for up to two days or until ready to use.

To Roast: Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sliced, pre-cooked beets in olive oil and seasonings. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes. Serve at once.

Broccoli

  • 1 head broccoli
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Divide broccoli into generous 2-inch florets. Wash and pat dry, then toss thoroughly with olive oil and seasonings. Roast on baking sheet for 20-25 minutes until stalks are soft and heads begin to brown and crisp.

Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 pound fresh brussels sprouts
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Wash sprouts, trim ends and halve lengthwise. Toss with olive oil and seasonings and spread out onto a baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until sprouts are browned and tender, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Head here for more on cooking with brussels sprouts.

Carrots

Choose young, new carrots, about as thick as your index finger. Wash, dry and trim ends but don’t peel. Toss with olive oil and seasonings and spread onto baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender. Serve at once.

Love roasted carrots? Try Roasted Carrot Soup for a tummy warmer this fall.

Cauliflower

See ‘Broccoli’ above.

Parsnips

Peel parsnips and trim ends. Cut the bottom half off and slice the top half in two lengthwise. Toss with olive oil and seasonings. Roast at 450°F for twenty minutes until golden and slightly crispy. Serve hot.

For ‘fries’, slice into thin strips, toss with a little more olive oil and roast until crisp.

Sweet Potato

  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes (1 1/2 pounds)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Wash and peel sweet potatoes; cut into 1-inch wedges, about the size of thick ‘home fries’. Toss with olive oil and seasonings and spread onto baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes until tender, turning once or twice for even browning. Serve at once.

A Finishing Touch

An extra ingredient can be splashed, drizzled or grated over the roasted vegetables just before serving to dress up the dish or help tie it into the rest of the meal. Here are a few of my favorite pairings, but feel free to get creative.

  • Acorn Squash >> Sherry Vinegar
  • Beets >> Greek Yogurt
  • Broccoli >> Sesame Oil
  • Brussels Sprouts >> Lemon Juice
  • Carrots >> Honey
  • Cauliflower >> Parmesan Cheese
  • Parsnips >> Maple Syrup
  • Sweet Potatoes >> Chili Oil

So embrace roasted vegetables this fall! Enjoy the vegetables you love, and try something new, too!
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Have you roasted a vegetable recently?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. I love the simplicity of this! Vegetables like pumpkin and squash are so delicious when they’re roasted!
    LimeCake’s last post: Lazy Sourdough Apple Pancakes

  2. Everything here looks and sounds amazing. I love the colors, textures and tastes of autumn. I love to cook cauliflower by cutting the head into slices about 1/3-1/2 inch thick. I drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper and brown it on the stove. Delicious. And the kids love it as well!!

    And now, I am going to plan tomorrow night’s acorn squash (straight from the garden!)
    Paige’s last post: Chocolate Chipotle Raspberry Sauce

  3. I think vegetables taste best when they are roasted and I think it’s such a shame so many people are still boiling their veg, unaware that there is so many better ways to cook them. It’s healthy as well, as the nutrients aren’t boiled out. The colours and texture is better too. To me it’s win win!

  4. What an informative, helpful post! I will definitely be linking to this. This is such a good guide to roasting veggies. My favorite roasted vegetable lately has been sweet potatoes. I roast them with some sliced onions and season them with dill–along with olive oil, salt and pepper. You’ve inspired me to try roasting acorn squash. Sounds like a great seasonal side dish.

  5. Yes! Acorn squash just last week! Now I want to roast all of the other vegetables you mentioned. Yum…

  6. You had me with the pictures alone! Thanks for posting this, wish I could find those little carrots around here.
    Erin OBryan’s last post: Energy Crisis Assistance Please

  7. Yum, yum! We made butternut sqaush “French fries” last week in the oven and they were fantastic. Topped with grated Parmesan and dried sage they were perfectly fall.

  8. Maryann @ Raise Healthy Eaters says:

    I love roasted veggies and this certainly inspired me! My major problem is I always seem to be cooking the main entree in the oven making it hard to roast veggies.

    • Maryann, I know what you mean. Often, though, the main can afford to rest and hold while the veggies roast.

      • You can put some maple apple chicken sausages right on the pans with the veggies and they will also be ready after about 20 min. at 425. Good fall supper. Make up a quick miso sauce and toast some pita and you’re ready for company to come over!

  9. Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) says:

    Roasted vegetables is one of the most rewarding side dishes – healthy, easy, delicious, and looks/sounds elegant.
    Thanks for the step-by-step. I haven’t roasted a lot of fall veggies so thanks for the inspiration!
    Steph (The Cheapskate Cook)’s last post: Blender Soup

  10. I often use this same method of tossing the veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sometimes garlic powder, and then I just spread them out on the tray for my toaster oven and set it to broil. It only takes about 5 minutes and you don’t have to heat up the entire oven!
    Megan’s last post: Aspire 11 x 14

  11. YYYYUUUUMMM- and thanks for the specific instructions

  12. My absolute favorite is roasted beets with a good balsamic vinegar. I chop my beets and roast them open on a pan. As soon as the timer goes off, I pour the vinegar on them in the hot pan. It makes the vinegar a bit syrupy and is absolutely divine… Plus, my toddler can’t get enough of them :-)

  13. Great tips :) Roasting root vegetables enhances a lot of it’s natural flavors. And the caramelization? Wow :D
    Kiran’s last post: Orange and cranberry bread

  14. That does it…I’m roasting squash tonight!!
    CherylK’s last post: Gila Monster – Camera Critters 133

  15. Besides the ease and deliciousness of roasting veggies, they’re also a great base to make stage two and three baby food. Great post, as always.
    Jennie’s last post: pear and ricotta crepes

  16. This looks delicious thanks for sharing the receipt.

  17. Nice tutorial! I just posted a recipe for green beans, which are fabulous roasted as well. (http://comfybelly.com/2010/11/roasted-string-beans/)

  18. Another easy trick with roasted veggies (esp. sweet potato cubes) is to toss with olive oil and a fajita seasoning packet before roasting – it’s a really good flavor combo and helps get just the right carmelization going.

  19. How do you roast cabbage? Love cabbage but have never roasted it.

  20. Do you have a weekly newsletter?

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