Roasted Vegetables with Bright & Crunchy Herbed Topping

October 23, 2018
5 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 4 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4, as a side
Author Notes

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

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is featured in the story, Your Roasted Holiday Vegetables Deserve This Puckery, Crunchy Topping, sponsored by Ajinomoto. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • root vegetables for roasting (such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beets, squash), scrubbed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (about 1/2 shallot)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon MSG
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 2 tablespoons red quinoa (or millet or sesame seeds)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. To serve, put the vegetables on a large platter then sprinkle with the crunchy topping. Serve warm or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tammi Hoerner
    Tammi Hoerner
  • Cory Baldwin
    Cory Baldwin
  • Pamm L Peterson
    Pamm L Peterson
  • carriemb

7 Reviews

Pamm L. November 19, 2021
I don't see how many root vegetables to use. Either by weight or the piece. Please advise. thank you.
carriemb November 19, 2018
Made this without MSG (I didn't have any MSG). It was delicious and will be making an appearance at our Thanksgiving table this year.
Lori H. November 18, 2018
Great dish. Agree about MSG, used sea salt in its place. Not sure how this preps in 4 minutes. Took me that long to zest the lemon! We will make it again and would love to see more recipes like this.
Tammi H. November 1, 2018
Why would you ruin a healthy dish with MSG? The natural flavors of this meal will be plenty for me and my family! The rest of the recipe is perfect. MSG is a known neurotoxin.
kitblu November 4, 2018
My thought exactly. This is the first time I have seen MSG used by any major recipe site and I am appalled, not least because I am allergic.
Cory B. November 15, 2018
Hi Tammi H! We've chosen to include MSG in this recipe because, as ideas surrounding glutamates have changed over time (and as it's been confirmed as a safe ingredient), more people are interested in cooking with MSG at home. You can read more about that here, if you're interested: That said, it's totally a personal choice, so if you have a sensitivity, allergy, or don't want to use it, you can simply omit it from the recipe. Thank you for reading.
wesbarton November 15, 2018
I don't have a problem with MSG per se, but look at that author's note.