One of the trickier challenges I’ve encountered as a personal chef for families is to come up with tasty-but-healthy ways to prepare veggie recipes for picky eaters. Over the years I’ve found one particular technique that’s easy and always a hit: roasting them on parchment. It has converted veggie-haters of all ages, because roasting removes water and condenses the veggies’ natural sugars, giving them a dense, lightly-sweet nuttiness (no mushiness in sight!).
Even the less-popular veggies (cauliflower—we're looking at you) taste amazing when crispy and roasted.
Here’s How to Do It
Hot Hot Hot: I usually roast veggies at about 450 degrees. If your oven runs really hot go down to 425 or 400 but no lower to ensure crispy results
Parchment Prep: Use parchment on sheet pans for a completely non-stick, easy cleanup surface instead of spraying the pan or foil with cooking spray. It needs no additional greasing and actually absorbs oil and moisture from the veggies as they cook to a tasty crispy finish.
Even Steven: Cut whatever veggies you’re roasting into as many evenly-sized pieces as you can so they’ll cook and crisp up at the same rate. You can play with different shapes, from wedges to florets depending on what you’re working with.
Spice it Up: Place all your cut veggies in a large bowl and at a minimum, toss with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. It’s simple to add more flavors here too, just toss with some of your favorite spices or sturdy herbs like rosemary and thyme.
Some of my fave veggies:
• Killer Cauliflower – add curry powder or cumin – everyone loves this surprise hit!
• Sweet Potato Oven Fries – add cumin, cayenne, or cinnamon
• Brussels Sprouts – add thyme and finish with orange zest, maple syrup, bacon, or balsamic
• Roasted Ratatouille – put zucchini and diced peppers on one tray, cubed eggplant on the other, and stir into simmering tomato sauce
• Broccoli – drizzle with a soy sauce mixture (as in my recipe for Crispy
Room to Breathe: Important! Spread your seasoned veggies out evenly across the parchment, leaving space in between for hot air to circulate. When they’re crowded together they “steam” to weak mushiness versus “roasting” to delicious crispiness. If you’re making a large batch, opt to use a second baking sheet or roast them in batches instead of crowding them onto one sheet.
Toss After Ten: Check your veggies about 10 minutes into roasting, especially if this is your first time and you’re not sure how hot your oven runs. You’ll want to toss them once or twice while cooking so they get deliciously browned on several sides. If you’re using two pans at once, switch their positions in the oven for more-even browning.
Last…But Certainly Not Least: When they’re nice and brown your veggies will slide painlessly off the parchment. Just toss the paper in the trash and rinse your almost-clean pan with a little soapy water. How awesome is that? Delicious…and done!
Ready to try? Get my "Crispy Broccoli with Garlic-Soy Drizzle" recipe here.