Roasted veggies are a simple but delicious and healthy side dish for any meal. Nothing to it but some slicing and dicing, followed by a bit of oil and your favorite seasonings before popping the baking sheet into the oven for a bit. But what if you have been doing it all wrong the entire time?
Chef Nick Balla of Duna and Smokebread restaurants in San Francisco (and formerly of Bar Tartine) recommends forgoing the oil, at least before you roast vegetables. Dry roasting might sound like something reserved for peanuts or coffee beans, but Balla tells Food and Wine magazine that this process can turn out tastier veggies, too.
“Everything is going to retain more aroma with a dry technique,” the chef told the magazine.
Balla perfected his method of dry roasting vegetables not in the kitchen of a restaurant but in his own father’s kitchen. Vegetables have a high water content, and when that water combines with oil it can create a smokey, splattered mess. Because of this, Balla’s dad taught him to roast without any cooking oil.
How To Dry Roast Vegetables
Not only is dry roasting cleaner, but it can make foods taste better, as well. Another bonus? The process is super simple:
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Place sliced, diced or whole veggies in a glass or cast-iron pan.
- Slide them into the oven. Roast times vary.
- Once finished in the oven, slather the veggies with olive oil and toss with the herbs and spices of your choice.
The time it takes depends on the size and water content of the vegetables you are preparing. For veggies with more water, Balla recommends heating the pan before placing the vegetables in, as this will speed up roasting.
Don’t worry about your produce sticking to the baking dish; the resulting caramelization will only add more flavor.
Of course, you can dry-roast your longstanding favorites, such as carrots, tomatoes and potatoes, but don’t stop there. Balla suggests roasting mushrooms, turnips, squash and anything else you pick up at the store or your local farmer’s market. Try some crunchy roasted radishes or fresh roasted okra for a change of pace.
[h/t: Food and Wine]