April 4, 2014

Roasting Vegetables Made Easy

Vegetables are healthy and nutritious, but quite frankly often boring. There is a reason why children often need to be made to eat their vegetables, often under the threat of "You can't have any dessert if you don't finish your veggies" or similar. But vegetables can be delicious if done right.
One thing that makes an enormous difference is how fresh the veggies are. Fresh veggies simply taste better, although admittedly some veggies do freeze very well, for example broccoli. That said, I focus on locally in season vegetables when possible as they are tastier are more nutritious, although that simply isn't possible much of the year in New England and other cold climates.
Another thing that makes a big difference is how the vegetables are cooked. Boiled and over cooked seems to be the standard in many places, including some entire countries! One cooking technique that makes a big and positive difference is roasting. Roasted foods simply are very favorable.
I love fire roasting, but quite frankly it is not always convenient. For starters you need a fire which generally means outdoors. Although I do fire roast sometimes, it is usually restricted to the warmer months. Oven roasting has many of the advantages of fire roasting, plus it is more convenient and much easier to control the cooking temperature which means more consistent results for most amateur cooks.
A marinade or coating is wonderful on most anything roasted. Here is my pretty much universal marinade I use on most vegetables as well as meats and much more.
Combine 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, a tablespoon if chopped garlic, and a little fresh ground black pepper. The salt is optional if on a low salt diet, and although I love and almost always use garlic, sometimes I'll substitute chopped onions or something else for variety. I also sometimes will add hot red pepper flakes, which work well on just about everything.
Coat the veggies in the marinade. You can toss them in a big bowl or put them loosely in a well sealed plastic bag and shake vigorously for a couple of minutes. Coating them perfectly evenly is never possibly so just do a pretty good job.
I like to roast veggies at a high temperature, usually around 420 degrees. Preheat the oven, place them in a baking pan, and bake until done. Depending on what you're roasting, it'll usually take between 15 minutes (small broccoli florets) to 30 minutes (Brussel Sprouts) to 45 minutes of longer (potatoes).
One specific recipe is for oven roasted broccoli. It is fast and easy, uses a variant of the universal marinade above, and can be adopted to many different veggies as well!
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