Weeknight Cooking

Crisp and Tender Roasted Root Vegetables

April  2, 2013

Merrill's baby Clara is finally old enough to eat solid foods. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, Merrill steps into the fray.

Today: Roasted root vegetables -- a perfect side or snack.

Clara Eating Roasted Vegetables

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This column has focused primarily on main dishes over the past several months. And I realize I've been writing a lot about meat lately -- it seems we have a voracious little carnivore on our hands. But Clara loves her vegetables too. (She gets almost as excited about broccoli as she did about the bunny-shaped cookie the size of her head my mother gave her for Easter.) So I end up cooking a lot of vegetables to supplement all the chicken and meatballs. Plus, they're great for toting around as snacks.

I prepare the vegetables simply, steaming or sauteing bite-sized pieces with a little olive oil and salt, cooking them until only just tender so that they won't fall apart when they're grabbed up by little hands. When it comes to root vegetables (still going strong here on the East Coast), I like to roast; this highlights their sweetness, caramelizing the surfaces to provide a crisp contrast to their melting insides. My technique doesn't stray far from the tenets outlined in this helpful guide for roasting pretty much any kind of vegetable: cut the veggies into uniform pieces, use plenty of olive oil and salt (and whatever herbs you like), and roast them in a hot oven, tossing halfway through.

Clara Eating Roasted Vegetables

Over the weekend I usually make a big batch (about double the size of the recipe below) and keep a tub in the fridge for meals and snacks. Use whatever combination of root vegetables you like, and serve them either warm or at room temperature.

Crisp and Tender Roasted Vegetables

Crisp and Tender Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped carrots (3/4-inch)
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped parsnips (3/4-inch)
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped sweet potatoes (3/4-inch)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (or another woodsy herb of your choice)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom.

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  • Mitwocents
  • OldGrayMare
  • Nick R
    Nick R
  • AntoniaJames
  • darksideofthespoon
I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


Mitwocents June 5, 2013
I freeze in glass that I've lined with wax paper. Once the stuff is frozen, I take and pop it out. Use a rubber spatula, set on a warm surface the flip etc. I them re-wrap with freezer paper or wax paper. Mark with masking tape the date and what it is. They stack nicely. When defrosting I unwrap and sip into whatever container it came out of.....
OldGrayMare April 7, 2013
Don't forget the beets and turnips....both are scrumptious this way.
Nick R. April 2, 2013
Keep up the good work Merrill. At Clara's age my son was an ardent vegetable eater. He loved carrots and was a huge fan of Caponata (roasted eggplant and caper dish) Unfortunately, his eating habits did a complete 180 once he turned 3. Ever since then for some unknown reason every vegetable is a fight. Even his precious Caponata. He won't even eat whipped sweet potatoes with butter. Our meals at home actually center around vegetables and we eat whole and healthy meals 7 days a week. But he wants no part of it. We will continue the good fight. I sincerely hope your luck continues.
Merrill S. April 3, 2013
Thanks, Nick! And may the force be with you.
AntoniaJames April 2, 2013
I really like that you didn't use parchment (as was shown in the tutorial you linked). First, the paper acts as an insulator, preventing the super hot surface of the baking sheet from making direct contact with the vegetables, which is key to perfect caramelization. Second, we should all ask ourselves before using any disposable (or even recyclable) product whether it's really necessary. Decisions we make about consuming and disposing natural resources have a serious impact on the quality of life of the Claras and other children in the world when they are older. Please don't get me started on zip-lock bags for regular freezer storage . . . . ;o)
Matilda L. April 3, 2013
AntoniaJames, I've been trying to find an alternative for freezer bags for freezer storage. I know I go through many of them, but the bags are so handy when I freeze stews flat--compact and easy to store and fast to defrost (I have a very narrow freezer.). (Note: I work full time and have 3 kids under 6 years old, so I have to get dinner on the table in a hurry.) I've tried plastic containers, which are not compact and sometimes shatter. I won't put glass in the freezer. If you know of any solutions to the freezer bag problem, I'm all ears!
Frank P. April 3, 2013
I have been freezing food in Pyrex containers for years without a problem.
LittleMissMuffin April 4, 2013
what's wrong with glass in the freezer? i use old glass baby food jars and Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant spread jars (also glass) for freezing chicken stock and leftovers all the time...
Kenzi W. April 5, 2013
Just circled back to this thread, and since we've been itching to do a freezer storage post for a while, we'd be curious to know alternatives for freezing that don't involve bags or the like -- AJ, do tell!
AntoniaJames April 5, 2013
Flat rectangular Pyrex storage boxes (perfect for leftovers in the fridge too, as well as an interesting other, non-storage kitchen use, but that's for another time). Wide mouth Mason jars. Wide mouth only! And leave some head space (I cover the contents directly with a circle of parchment, to reduce freezer burn.), or the expansion will cause the glass to break.
I've also been known to use quart sized yogurt containers and pint sized deli containers for stock and for "pantry" stashes of frozen legumes, rice and grains. You can't reheat in them, obviously.
No, you can't get quite as many containers in as you can with flat plastic bags. But if it's that much of a problem, you're probably cramming your freezer with too much stuff, some of which will be tossed anyway because it disappeared and was forgotten.
I'm going to do the math sometime, measuring a plastic bag and figuring what the volume of solid, non-recyclable waste is produced by just 200,000 people (a very low figure, I'm sure) who each use 50 storage bags a year. That's one a week, and also a low figure, I'm sure, for home cooks who do this.
I just don't understand how people committed to organic everything and "sustainable" food production and harvesting practices can engage in such a horrifically non-sustainable practice, and preach to the world that everyone should be doing the same. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox.
You should post a Hotline question, by the way. I'm sure there are people out there with better ideas than these. ;o)
svbooker April 7, 2013
I also have significant freezer space issues and freezer bags stored flat is about the only way I can do it. But, I bought good quality bags and wash/re-use them many times. It's not ideal and I would prefer to use glass, but apart from supporting the freezer bag industry, I'm making less of an impact than if I just discarded the bags.
Rupal P. April 8, 2013
I have a pretty small freezer though I too hate the wastage. I do unfortunately use ziplock bags more often than I like but it drives me crazy seeing them recommended in my beloved books - for just a one time use for pie preparation or making ice cream? No way! But what I do is freeze chicken stock in freezer trays and pop them out and fill a freezer bag, which I replenish occasionally and replace the date on it. I do sometimes wash old bags but I have some reservations about this and am not sure of the stability of the plastic. I also go to the local whole foods often to recycle my #5 plastics in their "preserve containers" since I have so many of those. It is tough for me to make my own yogurt and set it in individual containers and it always comes out too watery when I put fruit at the bottom (which I was doing for awhile, but sometimes different goals have to give). I do put glass in the freezer sometimes but my containers take up a bit of space - if I do put them in, I make sure never to fil to the top!
Matilda L. April 8, 2013
I don't put glass in the freezer because I'm clumsy--I've broken 3 coffee carafes within the past year alone.
Frank P. April 8, 2013
I would be concerned about washing and reusing plastic bags. I doubt if you can make them clean enough if you are using them for meat or fish. I do freeze bread in reused bags and cake is probably safe. On the other hand, in my community plastic bags are recycled.
darksideofthespoon April 2, 2013
I made this yesterday for my 1 year old! Beat you to the punch, guys! ;) I snack on them when she is full, I <3 roasted vegetables.