Summer is here! All of the stone fruit, berries and even the first grapes are in full swing at the Farmers’ Market, but let us not forget summer vegetables. Summer vegetables, like eggplant, asparagus, green beans, Romano beans, summer squash, and tomatoes, are favorites. Roasting vegetables is one of the easiest ways to prepare them, and they always come out tasting delicious. Grilling vegetables in the summer is also great, but not everyone has a grill, so roasting is an equally tasty alternative. Roasting enhances the natural flavors of vegetables, as well as giving them that yummy, browned and crisped taste. Generally, roast vegetables in a hot, preheated oven (400-450 degrees) until browned, usually 10-15 minutes, depending on the vegetable. For instance, eggplant can take up to 30 minutes and quick-roasted cherry tomatoes can take as little as five minutes. Roasted vegetables can be served hot out of the oven. They can also be served at room temperature, which is great for picnics or for cooks who have not perfected the art of timing dishes to finish all at once. Roasted vegetables are wonderful for entertaining and impressing guests because they will look and taste like you slaved for hours in the kitchen. Not only are roasted vegetables great as a side dish or main course, but can also be used in pastas, salads, sandwiches and omelets. They are just as delicious and versatile as leftovers, too.
Here are some tips on roasting vegetables from Amelia Saltsman, author of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook:
Roasting causes evaporation (shrinkage), so you need a good measure of raw vegetables to start.
Keep vegetables or vegetable pieces a uniform size for even cooking.
Toss cleaned, trimmed vegetables with 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil, kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. For convenience, do this directly in the pan.
Always preheat the oven.
Don’t crowd the pan, or your vegetables will steam rather than brown. Large baking sheets (half sheet pans) and heat-proof glass dishes are ideal for roasting.
Roast vegetables uncovered in the upper third of the oven for better browning.
Halfway through the cooking time, remove the pan from the oven and give it a shake or use a spatula to loosen and turn the vegetables.
When the vegetables are browned and tender, season again with salt and pepper.
If serving the vegetables at room temperature, allow them to cool completely before piling them onto a serving dish. Room-temperature vegetables may need extra seasoning.