Roasted Vegetables: Recipes and Tips

Roasted veggies add flavor and nutrition to pizza, sandwiches, pasta and more.

From the WebMD Archives

As grilling vegetables is to summer, so roasting vegetables is to fall and winter. Not only does the cooler weather make it a wonderful time to turn on the oven for an hour, but the veggies available in fall are practically designed to be roasted. Many roasted vegetable recipes call for favorite fall vegetables like carrots, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, turnips, winter squash, eggplant, and more.

For diet-conscious folks, roasted vegetables add wonderful flavors to dishes without a lot of fat and calories. Roasted veggies like garlic, potatoes, and carrots can also work wonders as fat substitutes in recipes for mashed potatoes, sauces, cream soups, and casseroles.

Why Roast Vegetables?

The process of roasting brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables and intensifies their natural flavors. Think about how wonderful roasted onions; carrots; red, orange, or yellow peppers; eggplant; and asparagus taste. Roasted garlic is another perfect example. While raw garlic is pungent, roasted garlic has a sweeter, milder flavor. You might be hard pressed to choke down a clove of raw garlic, but you can spread six cloves of roasted garlic over a slice of bread as you would butter.

To me, there's no comparison between steamed vegetables and roasted vegetables. Roasted veggies have browning, carmelization, and crisping happening, while steamed ones are just cooked. Roasted vegetables are just more tantalizing to most all of the senses -- sight, taste, smell, and even touch.

How to Roast Vegetables

You might have had roasted vegetables at a restaurant or friend's house that seemed to be nearly as much oil as veggies. But roasted vegetables really don't need to be made with a lot of oil. Here are the four basic vegetable roasting steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan with foil, and coat the foil with canola or olive oil cooking spray. Cut your vegetables into small chunks or hearty bite-sized pieces.
  2. Add vegetables in a single layer to the foil-lined pan and spray the top with cooking spray or drizzle with a bit of canola or olive oil (use no more than a teaspoon of oil for every cup of vegetables). If you use oil, toss the veggies about on the pan to coat as much of them with oil as possible.
  3. Sprinkle on any desired seasonings, such as rosemary or basil, parsley, marjoram, salt and pepper. Coat the tops of your veggies again with canola or olive oil cooking spray, if desired, especially if you didn't drizzle with oil in Step 2.

Bake until veggies are lightly browned in areas, and tender. If your vegetables look like they are starting to dry out during the roasting period, drizzle some broth, apple juice, or low-fat Italian dressing or vinaigrette over the top. Different vegetables require different cooking times. Check your roasted vegetables after 25-30 minutes (this is probably the halfway point), turn them over with a spatula, then cook until they're tender and nicely browned around some of the edges (about 25-30 minutes more.)

How Long Should I Cook Roasted Vegetables?

Keep in mind that these lighter density vegetables have the fastest cooking times:

  • Tomatoes
  • Summer squash
  • Eggplant

These can take as little as 20 minutes to roast at 350-375 degrees. But if you're baking them in a 400-degree oven along with medium and high density vegetables, just cut them in larger, thicker pieces and they will handle the higher temp and longer cooking time just fine.

These medium-density vegetables take a bit longer to cook:

  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Winter squash

These higher density vegetables, meanwhile, have the longest cooking times:

  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Pumpkins

Medium- and high-density vegetables tend to roast better at 400 degrees and can take up to 60 minutes to cook.

How to Roast Garlic

If you like garlic, you'll love roasted garlic. If you don't care for raw garlic, you might still love roasted garlic! The magic lies in the fact that the longer you cook garlic, the milder and sweeter it becomes. Roasting garlic in the bulb is a little different that roasting other vegetables and it deserves its own set of instructions.

This is my tried-and-true method of roasting bulbs of garlic!

  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees. Take out a sheet of foil and lay it on a flat surface.
  2. Cut about 1/4-inch off the pointed end of the garlic bulb. This will expose the top of most of the garlic cloves in the bulb. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil over the exposed cloves. Sprinkle the top with freshly ground salt and black pepper if desired. Wrap the foil up around the garlic bulb and fold or twist the foil at the top to seal in garlic bulb.
  3. Bake for 30 or 40 minutes or until the garlic cloves are golden brown and completely soft.

8 Ways to Use Roasted Veggies

Here are some of the ways I like to cook with roasted vegetables:

  1. Make your pizza a gourmet delight by topping it with roasted veggies. Try roasted garlic, onions, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, etc.
  2. Use roasted vegetables as all or part of the filling for your sandwich or pita pocket (eggplant, red peppers, tomato, yellow or zucchini squash, onions, etc.).
  3. Use roasted vegetables as part of the filling in your quesadilla, taco, or burrito (onions, squash, red pepper, etc.).
  4. Roasted vegetables make a fine main dish if blended with nuts and cheese.
  5. Roasted vegetables can serve as a side dish to complement a meat, fish, or vegetarian entree.
  6. Roasting vegetables before adding them to soups, stews, or salads will intensify the flavors of these dishes and make them even more fabulous.
  7. Use roasted vegetables as ingredients for spreads or dips. Try roasted eggplant, onions, and garlic.
  8. Add them to your favorite cold or hot pasta dishes.

Roasted Vegetable Recipes

Here are two recipes to get you started using roasted vegetables: a roasted veggie medley and an easy roasted veggie tart with goat cheese.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Medley

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 1/2 cups vegetables no added fat + 1 teaspoon oil

3 carrots, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 large sweet onion, cut into 1-inch chunks (remove tough outer skin)

About 18 cloves of raw garlic, peeled (optional)

1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 parsnips, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch chunks (use 2 if they're larger parsnips)

1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (optional)

Canola or olive oil cooking spray

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (if needed for moisture)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan with foil and coat the foil with canola or olive oil cooking spray.
  • Add vegetable medley to a large bowl, drizzle with oil and lemon juice, and sprinkle thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper (if desired) over the top. Toss to coat vegetables with oil and seasonings. (You can cover and store this overnight at this point.) When ready, spread the vegetable medley mixture into the prepared pan and coat the top generously with canola or olive oil cooking spray.
  • Roast until vegetables are browned and tender (about 50-60 minutes), gently turning the vegetables at the 30-minute point. Continue roasting the vegetables until they are ready (most edges are crisp and brown and the veggies are tender).

Yield: 6 servings

Per serving: 117 calories, 2 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 2.6 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5.3 g fiber, 22 mg sodium (not included salt to taste). Calories from fat: 19%.

Easy Roasted Vegetable & Goat Cheese Tart

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 slice whole grain bread + 1/2 cup vegetables with 1 tsp fat + 1 ounce low fat cheese

OR 1 vegetarian patty without added fat + 1 slice whole grain bread

OR 1 cup "hearty stew"

1 eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, then each slice cut in half

2 small (or 1 extra large) red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, stem and seeds removed, cut into strips about 1 inch wide, then each strips cut into 3 pieces

1 red onion, quartered and cut into bite-size pieces

2 yellow squash or zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

5 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning blend (or similar)

Salt and pepper (optional)

Canola or olive oil cooking spray

6 ounces light goat cheese (with 3.5 grams fat per ounce), use spreadable type if possible

6 whole-wheat tortillas (whole-wheat pita pockets can be substituted)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan with foil and coat the foil with canola or olive oil cooking spray.
  • Add vegetables, olive oil and Italian seasoning to a large bowl and toss to coat vegetables well. Add a sprinkling or two of salt and pepper, if desired. Pour mixture onto prepared pan and coat top with canola or olive oil cooking spray. Roast about 30 minutes.
  • Gently turn over vegetables and roast about 20 minutes more. Meanwhile, spread about 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of the goat cheese over the top of each tortilla. Crisp the bottom of the tortilla by placing in toaster oven and pressing "toast," or warming in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until bottom is nicely browned.
  • When vegetables are done, top each toasted tortilla with an assortment of the roasted vegetables (about 3/4 cup each). Cut each tortilla into 4 wedges.

Yield: 6 servings

Per serving: 194 calories, 8 g protein, 28.5 g carbohydrate, 8.5 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 9 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 245 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 34%.

Recipes provided by Elaine Magee; © 2007 Elaine Magee

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.