The Easiest Way to Cook Vegetables

January 20, 2012 | By | Comments (0)

Roasted parsnips

When I visit the farmers’ market—usually once a week—my eyes are always bigger than my stomach, and I end up buying way more produce than I actually need. My solution? I cook a bunch of vegetables at once and store them in the fridge; that way, they’ll be ready to go when I need a quick snack or instant side dish. One of the easiest ways to cook a lot of things at once is to roast them because your oven does all the work; plus, roasting usually brings out the best in an ingredient, making it tender, concentrating its flavor, and coaxing out its natural sugars.

I bought a bunch of parsnips the other day because they looked so appetizing and decided to turn them into parsnip “fries” for an easy snack. If you haven’t tried them, parsnips are great—they’re like sweeter, tastier carrots, and the fact that you can only get them in the fall and winter makes them feel like a treat. Here’s pretty much the standard format I use for roasting vegetables:

  • Cut them into pieces that are roughly the same size
  • Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and an herb of your choice
  • Spread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet; the foil will make cleanup a snap, and you don’t want to overcrowd the sheet or your vegetables will steam instead of caramelizing
  • Roast at around 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes (this will vary greatly depending on the size and type of vegetable; for example, asparagus takes about 10 minutes, winter squash may take 30 minutes)
  • Test for doneness with a fork (or by eating a piece)

I cut my parsnips into wedges and sprinkled with dried thyme, then roasted for about 20 minutes. The result: Tender, sweet parsnip “fries” that had crispness and deep flavor. Roasting is a great way to cook a vegetable you’re not that familiar with because it’s hard to screw up. An added bonus? It’s easy to eat your full serving of vegetables when they taste that delicious.