The nice thing about roasted vegetables is that you don’t have to slavishly follow a recipe — there’s not much more to them than cut, toss with oil, and roast in a hot oven until lightly and evenly touched with golden brown spots. Here are a few easy roasted vegetable dishes that barely need a recipe to make. Use these ideas as a springboard for your own.
Roasting brings out such incredible flavors that even seasonings are optional. If you do use any seasonings, it’s best to keep them simple. In most cases, just the lightest sprinkling of salt and pepper is all you’ll need. And lining your roasting pan will make cleanup a breeze.
Roasted butternut squash — on its own or embellished
Buy it prepped: Let’s face it — butternut squash isn’t the easiest vegetable to deal with. But it’s so good, here are a couple of work-arounds. If you don’t want to deal with prepping and cutting it up, you can use a 20 – to 32-ounce package of pre-cut fresh butternut squash. Look for this kind of prepped squash in your supermarket’s produce section in fall and winter.
Prep it yourself: If you prefer DIY, bake a medium to large butternut squash as directed following:
1. Wrap the entire squash in aluminum foil and place in a casserole dish.
2. Bake at 375º F for 30 minutes (for smaller squashes) to 45 minutes or slightly more (for butternut, sugar pumpkin, and larger squashes). You should be able to just pierce through the skin and flesh, a couple of inches for larger squashes, about an inch for smaller ones.
3. Once cool enough to handle, Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and fibers.
4. Cut the squash into thick slices (or see note), then peel and cut into large dice or chunks.
5. Arrange the butternut chunks on a parchment-lined roasting pan. Drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and roast in a preheated 425º F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once or twice during that time, or until the squash is nicely roasted and touched with light brown here and there.
6. Serve just as is or season simply with freshly ground pepper and/or chopped fresh herbs of your choice.
Here’s a tasty way to embellish roasted butternut squash:
Butternut squash with greens, herbs, and/or chickpeas
1. Arrange the butternut chunks on a parchment-lined roasting pan. Drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and roast in a preheated 425º F oven for 20 minutes.
2. Stir in a generous portion of stemmed and thinly sliced collard greens or kale in with the squash and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the squash is touched with golden brown spots here and there, and the greens are wilted.
3. Remove from the oven toss with as much chopped fresh basil, parsley, cilantro, or rosemary leaves as you’d like.
4. Season very gently as you’d like — use your favorite kind of seasoning blend (such as Mrs. Dash, Frontier, Spike, etc.), or Italian seasoning blend. Or just go with the standby, a pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.
Optional: To make this more of a main dish, add 1 1/2 to 2 cups canned (drained) or cooked chickpeas right at the beginning of the roasting process. Once done, you can also add some pumpkin seeds or toasted nuts.
Photo: Hannah Kaminsky
Maple-Roasted Baby Carrots
This is one of the easiest and most delightful things you can do with carrots —and it’s a good bet that kids will love it.
1. Combine a 16-ounce bag of baby carrots with about 1/4 cup maple syrup. Add a tablespoon or so of safflower or sesame oil for a richer flavor. Sprinkle in some cinnamon, toss well to coat, and roast in a 400º to 425º F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
2. Once out of the oven, you can add some chopped walnuts or pecans and/or dried fruit, such as raisins or sliced Turkish apricots. Or just sprinkle on some very finely chopped parsley or cilantro for extra eye appeal.
Photo: Hannah Kaminsky
Roasted Cauliflower with Nutty Bread Crumbs
1. Cut a medium head of cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and florets. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss together.
2. Arrange in a parchment-lined roasting pan (parchment-lined, if you’d like). Roast in a 400º to 425º F oven for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whirl a slice of whole-grain (or gluten-free) bread and 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans in a food processor until reduced to fine crumbs.
4. Stir the cauliflower and sprinkle evenly with the crumbs. Continue to roast until the cauliflower is tender-crisp and touched with brown spots, about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasting these tiny cabbages has converted many a skeptic. Adding just a little balsamic vinegar is a subtle way to bring out their flavor.
1. Trim the stem ends of about a pound or so of Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half (quarter especially large ones) and toss with a small amount of olive oil and a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar.
2. Roast in a 400º to 425º F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until lightly browned. To vary this, add a cup or two of not-too-chunky baby carrots to make a colorful medley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Sesame oil roasted asparagus
1. Trim about an inch off the bottoms of a good-sized bunch of medium-thick asparagus spears; scrape the bottom halves of the spears if the skin looks thick.
2. Arrange on a lightly oiled baking pan and drizzle with a tablespoon or so of dark sesame oil.
3. Roast in a preheated 400º to 425º F oven oven until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once out of the oven, arrange on a serving platter. Season gently with salt and pepper and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if you’d like.
Garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes
1. Scrub a few medium golden potatoes and cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices, thick wedges, or bite-sized chunks. Or, use or some small new potatoes, cut in half. Either way, toss with a little olive oil in a mixing bowl, just enough to coat lightly. Transfer to a roasting pan.
2. Roast in a preheated 400º to 425º F oven for 15 minutes.
3. Stir in a few cloves of chopped garlic, and the leaves from 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary. Roast for 10 minutes longer, or until the potatoes are golden and crisp. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Roasted beets (with or without other root vegetables)
Even those who say they don’t like beets might change their mind when they’re served this way; those who like beets will love this. Try this with golden beets and other varieties as well.
1. Peeling raw beets is challenging. Partially cooking them, either in a saucepan covered in water, or in the microwave (about 2 minutes per raw beet) really helps. Cook just until you can poke through about a quarter inch into the beet.
2. Let the beets cool to room temperature (if you need to expedite this, plunge them into a bowl of ice water). To minimize the mess when cutting, peel the beets over the trash or compost container, then slice or chop them on a cutting board covered with wax paper.
3. Place prepped beets (allow 1 medium beet per serving) in a parchment-lined baking dish and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Bake at 400º or 425º F oven for 20 to 30 minute or until tender to your liking. Stir once or twice during that time.
4. Beets are nice roasted with other root vegetables, including carrots and sweet potatoes, as shown above. Simply cut into similar-size pieces and roast them at the same time combined with the beets.
Photo: Susan Voisin
Roasted vegetable salad
Leftover roasted veggies — if there is such a thing — are a great addition to simple green salads. Simply serve on salad greens and drizzle lightly with a vinaigrette. This kind of salad is nice topped with toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds or nuts. If you’d like a more formal recipe, here’s Roasted Root Vegetable Salad.
If you like these easy roasted vegetable dishes, you might also enjoy exploring more veg-centric salads & sides.