Kitchen Basics: Roasting Root Vegetables

February 27, 2012

In her bi-weekly column, Kitchen Basics, Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen demystifies essential cooking skills with step-by-step instructions and her own handsome photos. Whether she's showing us how much brown sugar we're meant to "pack"(or is it cram?) into measuring cups or how to detect when our onions are properly caramelized, Susan is the nonna we never had -- until now. Now, go on and get cozy under her wing.

This week, Susan demonstrates how to roast root vegetables.

peeled root veg

Susan

I try my best to eat seasonal produce, but by February it’s a struggle. Like other Chicagoans, I’ve endured a marathon of gray-skied days and yearn for green grass, green leaves, and green vegetables. Asparagus, leeks, and artichokes won’t be harvested in the Midwest for weeks, but I start to fantasize about them anyway, which is a shame, I know. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables offer so much promise this time of year. They can serve as sunken treasures in soup and nuggets of flavor in stir-fries. They can also be transformed into mouthwatering sides using one of the simplest cooking methods of all: roasting.

Thanks to their low moisture content, root vegetables develop a sweet-savory flavor when exposed to high heat. Coating them with a thin layer of oil keeps them from drying out, and cutting them into relatively uniform pieces ensures even cooking. To build in even more flavor, toss root vegetables with your favorite hardy herbs or sprinkle them with a smidge of your favorite spices. Really, there’s little more to roasting root vegetables, so if you could use a little warmth in your house and in your belly, don’t pass them by.

How to Roast Root Vegetables

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash your favorite root vegetables. Here, I’m using parsnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes because I love the color combination and the way their gentle flavors blend together. 

Cut off the stem ends from the carrots and parsnips. Peel the vegetables and cut them down the middle lengthwise to create a flat surface.

peel root veg

sliced root veg sweet potato cut lengthwise

Place the parsnip and carrot halves on a cutting board, cut side down. Roughly chop them into one-inch pieces, crosswise. Discard the very narrow ends. 

chop root veg

Place the sweet potato halves on the cutting board, cut side down. Cut them into three large pieces, lengthwise. Roughly chop each piece into one-inch pieces, crosswise. 

Line a baking sheet or shallow pan with aluminum foil and layer the chopped vegetables on top. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and just enough olive oil to coat. Rub the vegetables with your fingers to thoroughly coat them with the oil. This will prevent them from sticking.

roast root veg

Cook the vegetables, flipping and stirring occasionally, for 35 minutes, or until they are tender enough to pierce with a fork. 

root veg

I’d love to see your tips for roasting root vegetables! Share them with your fellow cooks in the comments section below.

Are you new to cooking? Tell me what skills you'd like to learn and your idea could be featured in an upcoming post!

Want more basic tips from Susan? Check out her previous post: Kitchen Basics: Boiling Eggs.

All photos by Susan Pachikara.

Susan writes the blog Cardamom Kitchen to share her culinary experiences as an Indian-American rooted in the Midwest. 

susan cardamom kitchen

13 Comments Add a Comment
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    shanti623 says: These are DELICIOUS and so so so easy. From start to oven it took me just under 20 minutes for this great dinner. Thanks!

    about 1 year ago Reply to this »
  • S2

    Susan_P says: You're welcome, Shanti623. There are so many lovely root veggies available right now! Cheers, Susan

    about 1 year ago
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    Ana says: How do you feel about covering the tray with tin foil? I've done it both with and without tin foil, and I find that with the tin foil it doesn't try out as much, but then also doesn't develop the caramelized flavor.

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
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    Ana says: I meant dry out, not *try out.

    over 2 years ago
  • S2

    Susan_P says: Thanks for your comment, Ana. I couldn't bear to give up the caramelized flavor. Try adding a touch more oil and make sure that the veggies are fully coated. Cheers, Susan

    over 2 years ago
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    IvyM says: I have been roasting root veggies for a number of years, I often add pressed firm tofu to the mix to make it a balanced vegetarian option. This dish is also great as a side accompaniment for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I usually add beets to mine as well to add some extra colour! Oh, I also a add a LOT of fresh minced garlic for more flavour!

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
  • S2

    Susan_P says: Beets! Yum, that would be a lovely addition!

    over 2 years ago
  • Missing_avatar

    Lisa Cohoe says: I love your roasted root vegetables Susan. I am going to have to try it with the beets too. That does sound great Ivy.

    over 2 years ago
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    Madelyn says: I have roasted veggies with a little coconut oil, salt and pepper which gives it a different flavor. Thank you for your tips!

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
  • S2

    Susan_P says: A touch of coconut oil sounds delicious. Thanks for your comment.

    over 2 years ago
  • S2

    Susan_P says: Mary, I'm so glad it was helpful!

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
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    Mary C says: For the first time I oven-roasted parsnips, carrots and sweet potatos together as you suggested and it was DELECIOUS!! I enjoy reading your column. The photographs make it easy to follow. Thanks, Susan.

    over 2 years ago Reply to this »
  • Headshot

    Slate says: I use this recipe, adding yellow potatoes, all the time. I like to use the left-overs in a Spanish Tortilla. I always make extra for just that purpose

    over 2 years ago

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