In many households, a Sunday roast is a weekly tradition. Whether it’s a simple roast chicken or a brawny pork shoulder, the meal brings everyone to the table and provides welcome, convenient leftovers for days.
But the Sunday roast shouldn’t be restricted to the carnivores among us. Vegetables are equally good roasted. Just as with meat, the oven’s dry heat caramelizes the exterior, drawing out natural sugars. Even unpopular plants like Brussels sprouts lose their slightly bitter, vegetable edge as they become sweet and tender in a roasting pan.
Recently, I’ve been focusing my own weekend roasting on local heads of cauliflower and broccoli. Butternut squash, beets, carrots, parsnips and leeks are all good seasonal choices as well.
The method is the same for whatever you choose to roast: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut whatever you are roasting into pieces that are roughly the same size. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until browned in places and tender.
Having a large quantity of already-cooked vegetables on hand during a busy workweek makes pulling dinner together after work easier. It makes it much more likely to be healthier, too, since few of us eat enough vegetables.
Simple roasted vegetables are a versatile ingredient—they can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature. Here are few suggestions for fast weeknight meals you can make if you have a good supply on hand:
Veggie pizza. Chop your vegetables. Top a pre-made pizza crust or split pitas with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and your reserved veggies. Bake on a pizza stone until the cheese is melted and the crust (or pita) is crisp.
Veggie hummus. Add a cup or more of roasted vegetables to a food processor along with garlic, tahini or peanut butter, lemon juice and salt. Puree and serve with tortilla chips or pita wedges. This works with any vegetable, but roasted beets and carrots are an especially good twist on the classic.
Veggie pesto. Add a cup of roasted vegetables, a quarter-cup toasted pine nuts, a quarter cup grated cheese (parmesan or romano is best) and whatever stray herbs you have to the food processor. Pulse until a coarse paste forms. Toss with hot pasta and serve.
Veggie pancakes.Chop your vegetables fine with a chef’s knife and mix with a beaten egg and a couple tablespoons of flour. (Any type of cheese is another good addition here.) Mix until a thick batter forms. Film a skillet with olive oil and warm over medium heat. Drop quarter-cup portions of the batter into the pan, pressing with an oiled spatula to form cakes. Fry until brown on both sides.
Veggie quesadilla. I don’t know about you, but I love quesadillas. Unfortunately, the guilt of a meal that is basically just bread and cheese keeps me from eating them. Unless I have roasted veggies on hand to cut down on the cheese and add some good nutrition.
Frittata. Beat 3 or 4 eggs together with a splash of cream and fold in as many chopped roasted veggies as you like. Pour into an ovenproof skillet and bake at 375 until puffy, browned on top, and set in the middle.
Roasted vegetable hoagie. Split an Italian sub roll and spread it with mayonnaise. Layer shredded lettuces, tomatoes, and provolone cheese and fill with roasted veggies.
Tacos. Warm up a can of refried beans and a stack of corn tortillas. Set them out with your roasted vegetables, guacamole, and salsa. Chopped fresh cilantro and raw onions make for a fast, authentic garnish.
Moroccan couscous. Warm your veggies along with a can of chickpeas and several spoonfuls of harissa. Spoon the mixture over just-steamed couscous and top with chopped green olives.
Clean Out the Fridge Tart. Usually, I still have some leftover odds and ends hanging around on Saturday, almost a full week after I’ve made my big vegetable roast. I chop up everything that needs to be eaten and mix it with an egg and some cheese. I fill up a tart shell with this mixture (feel free to use frozen pie dough) and bake it until it’s set and golden. Even veggie-haters will eat this dish with glee.