The change of seasons brings with it a new group of fruits and vegetables you can enjoy. Apples, root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes and all the cabbage family foods, like broccoli and cauliflower, are at their peak now. And they’re all great candidates for roasting—one of my favorite Autumn cooking methods.
With the grilling season over, I start giving a lot more foods the roasting treatment. The oven’s dry heat caramelises the natural sugars in foods and brings a depth of flavor to fruits and vegetables that summer grilling can’t touch.
If you’ve never roasted root vegetables, you should give them a try. Roasted carrots are particularly delicious. Toss them with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread out on a cookie sheet and roast at 200 degrees for about a half hour until they’re tender. The vinegar turns into a sticky, syrupy glaze that coats them irresistibly. You can give the same treatment to sweet potatoes or beets—tossing them with something tart before roasting like lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or even pomegranate juice contrasts with their natural sweetness.
Roasted veggies make a great side dish, but on the off chance there are any leftovers, they’re great added to soups and stews. Or you can slice them up cold and dress with vinaigrette, or add to mixed greens to give some Autumn flavor to your tossed salad.
I was never much of a cauliflower lover until I started roasting it; now it’s become a Autumn staple at my house. Roasting softens the strong flavor. The cauliflower gets sweeter, and the texture becomes almost meaty. I coat the florets and a sliced onion with a dash of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and curry powder, and then roast. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts—other veggies that are often a hard sell—are also delicious roasted with some oil and garlic.
You can roast fruits, too. Autumn apples are fantastic when they’re prepared this way. Pretty much any variety will do, and you don’t need to peel them. Just cut in halves or quarters, remove the core and spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprayed with nonstick spray and roast like you would the veggies. You can toss them with a little lemon juice, apple juice or, if you want, spices first. But if you start with tasty fresh apples, they’re really good on their own.
Written by Susan Bowerman, director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.