Roasting root vegetables is simple if you have three things: a baking sheet, some olive oil and an oven with a timer. Depending on how you're serving them, you may not even have to cut vegetables before you roast them. For example, make any number of creamy vegetable soups for your family by roasting whole vegetables until soft, then puréeing them with some vegetable broth and herbs. Get creamy texture and great flavor -- without using cream.
Buy seasonal vegetables, such as asparagus and peas in the spring and tomatoes and eggplant in the summer. Cut veggies into serving-size pieces before you roast them, then toss with olive oil and roast on baking sheets in your oven. Mix with cooked pasta in your favorite shape. Toss veggies and pasta with a creamy peppercorn ranch dressing. Add any other accompaniments you like, such as any kind of olives, pickles or marinated artichoke hearts.
Some vegetables, such as tomatoes, bell peppers and squash, lend themselves well to being stuffed and roasted. Mix together your favorite ground meat or meat substitute, fresh herbs and cooked whole grains. Stuff the mixture into your hollowed-out vegetables and roast until veggies and filling are fully cooked. Smaller vegetables make it easy for you to cook them as individual servings. Bigger vegetables like pumpkins can make nice centerpiece dishes to carve into kid-sized or adult-sized portions at the table. Roasting time will vary based on how large your stuffed vegetables are, with smaller vegetables taking less time than larger ones.
Rice goes with just about everything, and there are many different kinds of rice for your family to try. Roast whatever vegetables look good when you go to the grocery store, then cut them up and serve them over freshly cooked rice. Some vegetables like peppers and mushrooms soften as they roast, and will break up and incorporate themselves easily into your rice. Add your favorite lean protein on top or on the side, and you have a nutritionally complete meal. Some rice cookers come with vegetable steamer inserts that steam vegetables on top of the rice as it cooks. Use this to reheat any roasted vegetable leftovers as you cook new rice for a meal.
Roasting chicken, game hens, turkey and other poultry doesn't mean you need a special roasting rack. Chop up any vegetables you want to eat with your poultry, then scatter them over the bottom of a roasting pan. Season and truss your poultry, then set it on top of the vegetables with the breast side facing up. Roast according to recommended time and temperature for your poultry. The bird will season the vegetables as it and they roast together. If you baste your poultry as it roasts, you'll be basting the vegetables as well.
- "The Professional Chef," The Culinary Institute of America; 2006
- "ServSafe Coursebook, Fourth Edition," NRA Educational Foundation; 2006
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