A how to guide to bulk roasting vegetables, work smarter, not harder.
When it comes to cooking dinner for myself after training the last thing I want is for it to take more than 20 minutes, hell after some training sessions even 5 minutes is too long. In short after training I am very hungry and in turn impatient. But alas I know this about myself so I set myself up for success early in the week. I set out usually on Monday or Tuesday morning to stream line my dinners. It is Winter here in New York and for me that means bold, filling flavors and what better way to achieve that than with roasted vegetables!
What I do is I prepare my vegetables for the week in one day. I dedicate 20 minutes to an hour based on what I picked up at the store to roasting vegetables and portioning them for ease of use throughout the week. This way you do not need to fuss about having just boiled peas or steamed broccoli every night just because it is quick. With this how to guide you should be able to enjoy dinner and eating in general while getting the benefits that come from it. I look at dinner as a reward for all of the training I have done in that given day.
What is roasting?
Basic explanation: Putting meats or vegetables into a hot oven and cooking them until they become hot and brown.
Better explanation: Using dry heat source, such as an oven, to slowly cook a meat or vegetable. This process browns the outside of what you are cooking while tenderizing and cooking the inside by evaporating moisture.
Nerd explanation: Using an indirect heat source to slowly brown a meat or vegetable in a hot oven, the process of this is called the Maillard reaction. In short the naturally occurring amino acids and sugars of the ingredient break down and change color and flavor. When this begins to happen the compound starts to degrade and dehydration of the outside of the ingredients begins resulting in a crispy flavorful outside. This is the same thing that happens when you pan sear a chicken breast and it changes color and flavor on the side that is in direct contact with the pan.
Why roast vegetables?
Simple reason: They are delicious and it is very simple and time saving in the long run. Roasted vegetables can enhance a meal greatly and make it much more enjoyable. They can be pre-portioned once roasted for ease of use throughout the week.
Nerd reason: When roasting vegetables the heat evaporates the moisture within the vegetable which results in a few things;
- The vegetable steaming from the inside out and breaking down the fiber structure within which makes the vegetable easier to digest, meaning your body can also extract as much nutrients as possible from it.
- As the moisture within the vegetables evaporates it intensifies the inherent flavors by concentrating the liquids found within.
- While the flavors are intensifying internally the outside of the vegetables are going through the Maillard reaction and turning crispy. As this happens on vegetables it develops a crunchy sweet and slightly bitter flavor which is very desirable.
- Any added flavors such as citrus zest, seasoning, or fats are absorbed within the roasting vegetables while going through the roasting process themselves.
Guide to roasting vegetables:
Go to the grocery store or market and find what types of vegetables you like the best from this list of commonly roasted vegetables:
Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, squash, pumpkin, asparagus, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, turnips, zucchini, carrots, and parsnips.
I usually opt for a head of cauliflower, a small bag of Brussels and a sweet potato or two to get me through my week. I personally like to have a little of each vegetable with my meals. That being said I season each differently to make it a bit more diverse. Gotta have a little flava in life!
Seasoning: Garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, cayenne, ground cumin, nutmeg, brown sugar, honey
Flavor enhancers: Bacon, onions, garlic cloves, herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage) citrus zest, sliced almonds, peanuts or chestnuts.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Line a sheet tray or baking tray with tin foil and place it in the oven while it heats up. This is a little time saving tip.
- Prep your vegetables by breaking them down into bite sized pieces. You want them to be roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
- In a large bowl toss vegetables with oil, seasoning, etc if using it.
- Once the oven beeps to let you know it is hot, remove the sheet tray with oven mitts because it will be ripping hot.
- Pour your vegetables onto the tray in one even layer.
- Return the tray to the oven and set a time for 5 -7 minutes. Once that goes off open the oven and give the tray a shake to rotate the vegetables a bit.
- Reset the time and continue to cook until the vegetables have browned nicely and are softer to touch. The time varies for each vegetable and based on the size you cut them into.
- Remove the whole tray from the oven and let it cool down to room temperature before portioning into deli to-go containers and refrigerating.
- Dont forget to turn the oven off.
Tips and tricks:
A key point is to not over cook the vegetables. Note that once they come out of the oven internally they will still be cooking so this is known as “carry over cooking.” Once out of the oven they will continue to cook slightly while cooling. It is important to remove the vegetables or meat from the oven sooner rather than later in the cooking stage.
For the geeks out there the Maillard reaction is pH sensitive so it can be accelerated by adding a little baking soda to a food to speed the process up or to the opposite effect vinegar can be added to slow it down.
Rear naked roasted cauliflower and almonds
Makes 4-6 portions
Cauliflower, broken into florets: 1 head
Almond crushed: 1/2 cup
Olive oil: 1/4 cup
Crushed red pepper flake: 1/2 tsp
Ground cumin: 2 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Freshly ground black pepper: 1/2 tsp
Orange zest: from 1 orange
Orange juice: 1 Tbsp
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Place a tin foil lined sheet tray into the oven.
Toss cauliflower, almonds, salt, cumin, red pepper flake, and pepper in a bowl until evenly distributed.
Drizzle in the oil and toss to coat.
Transfer the cauliflower into an even layer onto the foil lined sheet tray and place back into the oven and set a time for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes sprinkle the cauliflower with orange zest and shake the tray a little to move the cauliflower around. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl, season with orange juice and let cool to room temperature before portioning into to-go style containers for the week.
Go train, eat later.
Other roasted vegetable ideas:
- Roasted tomatoes with thyme and rosemary
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon
- Roasted sweet potatoes with nutmeg, cinnamon and maple syrup