This umami-rich roasted vegetables recipe was developed in partnership with Ajinomoto Co. Inc.
Instead of making the roasted vegetables on your holiday spread heavier with cream, butter, and cheese, make them lighter and brighter with a crunchy topping, the makings of which can reflect your tastes. The basic idea is to provide roast vegetables with a topping that’s puckery, fresh, and all around toasty-crunchy. Here, we went with lightly pickled shallots, lemon zest, parsley, and toasted pepitas and quinoa, all held together with some olive oil. You could swap the shallots for scallions or red onion, the parsley for any other herb, and the seeds for nuts or even bread crumbs. Any which way, it’s a fun, flavorful jumble that enrobes your roasted vegetables.
In order for your dish to get noticed among all the huggable cream coats, though, each vegetable needs to bring great flavor to the dish. But vegetables in the winter can be unreliable and harder to come by (maybe that’s why we cling to the dairy aisle). By adding just a little MSG to your shallot, parsley, lemon, and seed mixture, the natural flavor of each ingredient is more pronounced and works to create a perfectly balanced result. Instead of being drowned out, they shine together. (The general rule of thumb when cooking with MSG: Use about two-thirds of the table salt you'd normally use, and then add one-third MSG back in.)
We've partnered with Ajinomoto Co. Inc. to bring you a series of recipes, stories, and videos that celebrate the fifth taste: umami. You can boost this rich, savory essence in almost any dish (like these roasted vegetables!) by adding a dash of MSG, a safe-to-eat seasoning that's pure umami flavor. —Ali Slagle
Preheat the oven to 425° F and prepare the vegetables for roasting. Depending on the vegetable, cut them as you wish: For small carrots, perhaps leave them whole; for squash, cut down into bite-size pieces.
Toss the vegetables with the salt, pepper, and enough olive oil to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast until fork-tender, about 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the vegetable. (If you're roasting red beets, roast them on their own section of the pan or on a separate pan as they will bleed into their neighbors.)
Meanwhile, stir together the shallot, lemon zest, and MSG, which will allow the shallot to lightly pickle. While the shallots are sitting, toast the pepitas in a dry pan, then add to the shallots. Toast the quinoa in the same dry pan until they start to pop, then stir into the shallots, as well. Add the parsley, followed by 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, and stir to combine. Season to taste with the MSG, olive oil, pepper, and lemon juice.
To serve, put the vegetables on a large platter then sprinkle with the crunchy topping. Serve warm or at room temperature.