Roasting veggies: Just short of a controlled burn

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Roasting veggies: Just short of a controlled burn

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:29 pm

Next time I'm making a big platter of roasted vegetables, I'm going to know how to tell when they're ready: When Mary yells, "Go look, I think they're burning!" I'll know that they've got about 10 minutes to go yet.

As I've roasted a fair share of our urban garden's limited bounty this summer, I've learned a thing or two about the easy, delicious process of converting them into nutritious, healthy vegetable candy by cutting them into chunks, tossing them with oil, salt and pepper, and roasting them at 400 to 450F for a while.

So how long is "a while"?

The best answer is, "until they look and smell done," but I've found that, pretty much irrespective of the oven heat within that 400s range, they can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as 45 minutes. The key, as the subject suggests, is keeping them just chort of carbonizing into hard, cinder-like bitter black chunks, while getting them to the next step before that: Caramelized brown around the edges, crisp on the outside, while steaming and bursting with natural veggie flavors within.

It can be done. I'm just about convinced that roasting is one of the best things that humans can do to make almost any veggie delicious. Broccoli may be an exception, but I'm still working on that.

Last night's rendition (pictured) was pretty good, about 30 minutes at 450, but I let panic get the better of me and pulled them before they were as caramelized as they should have been. I'll leave 'em longer next time!
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Re: Roasting veggies: Just short of a controlled burn

Postby Tom NJ » Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:13 pm

Wives certainly are reliable indicators of doneness. Why would anyone buy a Therma Pen when they could have an audio thermometer (with benefits)?

Great looking bowl of veggies there, even if you thought they needed a bit more char. That's about the stage I like them when I make roast vegetable soups. If they go much longer, you get carbon bits spread throughout the dish that even the finest sieve or tamis can remove. Guests end up with polka dot teeth!
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Re: Roasting veggies: Just short of a controlled burn

Postby Karen/NoCA » Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:06 pm

Robin, I know exactly what you mean. Since I've discovered oven roasted veggies a few years ago, it is what I love to do with them. A mix of eggplant, red onion, red, white, and purple potatoes, garlic cloves, white onion, red and yellow bell peppers are my favorite mix. I have it down to a science and love to watch my family or guests faces when they see me take this big load out of the oven. I always drizzle just a little good balsamic over the top just as they come out. Oh my! I'm still working on getting cauliflower just right. My friend says I do not add enough olive oil to get the right caramelizing with them...still trying. Broccoli is one of those mysterious veggies for roasting. However, I have found the the broccoli I get at the Farmer's Market, if just picked and young, works best. When I get it at the store or a more mature broccoli at the FM, it tends to char too fast and too much. But when I get it right it is delicious.The more colorful the veggie mix is the better I like it, those colors just pop!
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Re: Roasting veggies: Just short of a controlled burn

Postby Rahsaan » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:04 pm

Robin Garr wrote:[within that 400s range, they can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as 45 minutes...


I usually prefer below 400, unless I'm in a rush. Longer slower cooking for creamier texture inside.
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Re: Roasting veggies: Just short of a controlled burn

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:48 pm

Rahsaan wrote:I usually prefer below 400, unless I'm in a rush. Longer slower cooking for creamier texture inside.

Noted with interest. Thanks!
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Re: Roasting veggies: Just short of a controlled burn

Postby Mark Lipton » Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:09 pm

Coincidentally, I just did an oven roast of veggies last night, much along the lines you describe, Robin. I put them in an oven set of 400° with convection. What I most appreciated was that the onions and bell peppers weren't charred at all but caramelized wonderfully while the potatoes were crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. I thought about adding kale to this dish, but hesitated because of concerns about it charring.

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