No, I haven’t up and hopped the Atlantic. I have, however, been eating up one of my favourite Italian-inspired roasted veggie recipes. As you might imagine, one of the reasons I love these roasted veggies so much is they’re incredibly colourful. The way I see it, there are two types of roasted vegetable dishes: the ones we eat in the winter and the ones we eat in the summer.
Winter roasted vegetables are made with winter/root veggies – beets, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, parsnips, etc. These vegetables help ground us, are comforting in the cooler months, and provide us with the anti-inflammatory and immune-supportive nutrients we need to stay well. Where I live, winter is behind us and so we are released from the root veggies for a little while.
The summer roasted vegetables – well, watch out lightness and colour! This Tuscan-style roasted veggie side dish is made with red and yellow bell peppers, summer squash, fresh herbs, onions and garlic. It is great served at room temperature, too – making it an optimal dish for warm weather BBQs, picnics or to make and take up to your cottage as an easy, ready-made side dish. No matter what else goes on the plate, this dish will make it look pretty as can be. And did I mention delicious?
Creating a Great Texture for Roasted veggies
My technique for roasting vegetables is different from what you probably find in most recipes and cookbooks. A lot of instructions call for chopping everything into bite-sized pieces before tossing in oil and seasonings and popping the veggies in the oven. In my experience, this can lead to overcrowding the pan with veggies and so they steam and get mushy. Or the vegetables shrivel and get too sharp and crunchy.
My strategy is to cut the vegetables into very large pieces for roasting and then chop them into smaller bite-sized pieces for serving. This method leads to beautifully caramelized and perfectly cooked roasted vegetables.
What’s the Best Cookware to Roast Vegetables?
What we use to cook our food in is important. There are a few options in which to cook your roasted vegetables:
A baking sheet greased well or lined with parchment paper.
This is my preferred method of roasting veggies as baking sheets are a staple in most kitchens. While I aim to greatly reduce my use of kitchen disposables, using parchment is convenient for easy cleanup – and I will re-use the same piece of parchment several times so it’s not single-use.
A baking sheet with a stainless steel cooling rack on top.
Adding your vegetables on a cooling rack allows more air to circulate for even, full-veggie roasting.
A pizza pan or grilling tray with holes in the bottom.
As with the cooling rack, this type of tray allows for air circulation and even cooking.
A large cast iron pan.
Cast iron is oven-safe and naturally non-stick when seasoned properly. Just ensure you don’t crowd the pan too much when roasting.
Optimal Roasting Temperatures
When using something like olive oil with monounsaturated fats that are not as stable, I’d advise sticking between 350 and 400 to cut down on free radical production.
Cooking on a campfire or a barbecue can mean less control over the heat. As a side note, cooking animal products over the high heats of a BBQ or campfire can lead to the production of harmful compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which may increase the risk of cancer.
Plant-based foods don’t form HCAs or PAHs over high heat; however, charring them to the extreme will destroy most of their nutrient value and cooking with unhealthy oils can contribute to free radical damage in the body.
Discover more healthful BBQ tips here.
What to Serve With Roasted Veggies
This Tuscan-inspired dish goes beautifully alongside:
- your favourite burger recipe
- animal protein of choice
- cooked tofu or tempeh
- gluten-free pasta
- gluten-free bread
- include this in a charcuterie platter with crackers, dips and hummus, fresh veggies, nut cheese, olive oil and balsamic, and bread
You can also toss the veggies with cooked grains, beans, or an animal protein for a full-meal deal.
If there are other vegetables you’d like to experiment with (eggplant, mushrooms, etc.) go for it!