Want to expand your repertoire of no added sugar recipes for dinner? Are you a beginner in the kitchen? Then roasting whole vegetables and fruit is a great method to explore!
For starters, throwing something in the oven without even touching a knife or chopping board is a winner. From there, there’s a number of things you can do with the finished result, from having cooked beetroot ready in your fridge to add to salads or sandwiches throughout the week, to scooping out the soft flesh from zucchini or eggplant to make a delicious dip, or serving up a whole roasted apple with some yoghurt for dessert.
There are other benefits too – roasting fruits and vegetables whole means you end up with less waste. More often than not, you’ll eat the skin, which is packed with extra nutrition, and roasting helps caramelise natural sugars so you can get bang for your buck in the ‘sweet’ department.
As a general rule of thumb, harder root vegetables like beets, pumpkin, and carrots will require a longer time in the oven, while soft fruits and vegetables like grapes, tomatoes and zucchinis will tolerate a quicker roasting time. If you want to speed up the process, cover the baking tray loosely with foil which will help steam the vegetables at the same time.
Below are some ideas to get you started, and don’t be afraid to experiment – this method is kind to the new cook!
Cut the top of garlic heads to expose the cloves, drizzle with olive oil, wrap loosely in foil and roast in a 200 degree Celsius oven for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out of their skin. There are so many ways to enjoy roasted garlic. Spread the cloves straight on toast, sprinkled with a little salt and drizzled with olive oil. Or store in an airtight container in the fridge and have on hand to make a garlicky dressing with yoghurt, to pimp a mayonnaise, or throw in a soup. Make a big batch and store extra in the freezer.
Beetroot is one of my favourite things to roast whole, and avoids a lot of mess! Wrap beetroot in foil and cook for at least an hour in a moderate oven. If you have really large beets, this may take a little longer. When they’re ready, a sharp knife should pierce through the flesh easily. When cool enough to handle, don some rubber gloves and remove the skin (it should come away easily). Grate the beetroot and stir through some crème fraiche and mustard for a quick side dish to meats and fish. Or quarter and toss with some goat’s feta and thyme leaves for a warm or cold salad. This is a great vegetable to keep in the fridge and use throughout the week for lunches and dinners.
Yes, that’s right! Roast whole grapes in the oven for 15-20 mins, drizzled with a little oil and a splash of red wine or sherry vinegar. The result adds a beautiful sweet note to salads, or crush them with their juices and serve on top of a piece of grilled meat.
Roasting whole carrots is one of my favourite ways to eat this delicious vegetable. Peel the carrots, and if you need to, cut them in half to make sure they are all even sizes (I know, I know, I mentioned no chopping!). Pop them in a baking dish, dot with lumps of butter and then cover with foil. Roast at 180 degrees Celsius for 45min then take the foil off and finish off for another 15 minutes. The cooking time at the end will help caramelise the edges to make it extra yummy. For a vegetarian meal, serve this on top of couscous with some pan-fried halloumi, or simply alongside some slow-roasted meat.
- Prick eggplants with a fork and roast for an hour before scooping out the flesh and combining with tahini, olive oil and lemon juice to make baba ganoush
- Score the skin of apples, scoop out the core and stuff with a few currants and a knob of butter. Roast for an hour and serve with yoghurt or crème fraiche.
- Roast whole celeriac for a couple of hours until tender and serve with a punchy anchovy sauce.
- Toss cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of traditional balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then roast for 20 minutes or so. Use as a bruschetta topping with goats cheese and basil.
- Rub a cauliflower (leaves and all) with olive oil, salt and pepper before popping in the oven for around an hour. Chop into florets and serve with a sprinkle of sharp parmesan or the anchovy sauce mentioned above.
- Place portabello mushrooms gill side up on a tray. Brush with butter or olive oil, scatter with thyme or rosemary and crack some salt and pepper over them. Roast for 15-20 minutes, serve on steak or in a vegetarian burger.
- If you want more easy meals for kids that encourage the consumption of veggies, than try roasting a whole pumpkin – something like a small golden nugget won’t take an age. When it’s ready, cut the ‘lid’ off in front of them and get them to scoop out the flesh. The theatrics are pretty hard to refuse!
Sweet potato, capsicum and fig are a few of many other vegetables and fruit that are great roasted. Get creative, and enjoy!
By Victoria Thaine,