Meal Prep Like A Boss
If you’ve been following along on my Instagram page, you know I’m a big proponent of blocking out at least two hours once per week to meal prep. Meal prep means cooking components in advance that can be used during the week to help you pull off quick weeknight dinners. One of the things I do every Sunday without fail is roast a tray (or two!) of veggies.
Roasted veggies are one of the most versatile components to stash in your fridge. Think toppings for pizza night, fillings for tacos, toppings for rice bowls, quick side dishes, fillings for omelets or frittatas, mix-ins for salads or pasta dishes, and many more possibilities.
When you have flavorful veggies already cooked and ready to go, you’ll have no trouble working more of the nutritious rainbow into your diet.
Here are my 8 tips for perfectly roasted veggies:
- Use Parchment or a Silpat
You never want to roast your vegetables directly on your sheet tray. Aluminum from the tray can leach into your food. Parchment paper makes for easy cleanup. I like to use the If You Care brand of parchment paper because it’s compostable and unbleached/chemical-free. Silpat mats (silicone baking mat) are also great because they’re economical and reusable.
- Right Amount of Oil
Using too much or too little oil can leave your veggies soggy or dry. For perfectly browned edges you need to use just the right amount of oil. You veggies should be lightly coated and glistening but not doused in oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is my go-to oil for roasting.
- Spread Out
Crowding your veggies is the fastest way to end up with a soggy finish. Spread the vegetables out on the entire tray so they aren’t touching. This often means you’ll need to use two trays. Each piece needs room to breath in order to brown. Too much on one tray results in too much moisture and they’ll end up tasting like steamed veggies versus a delicious caramelized, roasted flavor. It’s worth picking up a second sheet pan since they’re so inexpensive.
- Preheat Oven to 425°F
It’s tempting to stick the tray into the oven 10 minutes after you’ve turned it on. You really need the oven to come fully up to temperature. Most ovens take 20 to 30 minutes to fully reach the ideal cooking temperature of 425°F, so plan ahead to allow enough time for your oven to preheat.
- Separate Different Veggies
A variety of veggies means a variety of cook times. The denser the vegetable (think beets) the longer it will take. If you want to cook a variety of vegetables all at once on one tray cut the denser veggies smaller so that they cook faster. Better yet, separate different produce onto two trays based on cook time. One of my favorite combos is potatoes and cauliflower, so I’ll let the potatoes get a 10-minute jumpstart and then I’ll add the cauliflower to the tray.
Also be sure to cut the vegetables to uniform sizes so that they cook evenly.
- Best Seasonal Vegetables
Veggies that are dense are optimal for roasting. Seek out seasonal vegetables for maximum nutrition and flavor. My go-to’s for roasting year-round are cauliflower, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, beets, and carrots. My other favorites depend on the season: mushrooms in the Fall, butternut squash in the Winter, asparagus in the Spring, and tomatoes (for sauce) in the Summer.
- Stir Once
Most veggies will take about 30 minutes to achieve the golden edges that you desire. Don’t rush the process. A little bit of charring adds tons of flavor. Avoid stirring too frequently. Stirring once halfway through the bake time is sufficient.
- Simple Seasonings
Keep the seasonings simple to allow the flavor in the vegetables to shine. Especially if you are using seasonal ingredients, you won’t need to add very many spices. My go-to combo is sea salt, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Another fab combo is ground cumin and a pinch of cayenne if you like spice. Or blends like curry powder are another family favorite. Dried herbs burn too easily, so it’s best to stick to ground spices.
For more inspiration, check out this sample 7-Day Meal Plan for marathon training.
Photo 1: By Alan Weiner
Photo 2: By Elyse Kopecky