This post is from KS contributing writer ‘Becca Stallings of The Earthling’s Handbook.
After a long, hot summer using up those CSA vegetables from our local organic farm, cool weather provides a welcome opportunity to switch strategies. Many late-summer and autumn vegetables are delicious roasted!
Now that the weather’s cool enough for us to endure having the oven on, roasting is a terrific way to preserve some of the harvest. Roasted veggies take up less space than when they were raw. They’ll last a couple of weeks in a jar in the refrigerator. Roasted tomatoes, peppers, and onions freeze well for long-term storage.
This fall, I finally figured out how to make a coconut yellow curry sauce that tastes like the ones I love in restaurants–with an extra ingredient that adds lots of nutrition! Roasting may not be the authentic way of preparing vegetables for curry, but it gives them the flavor and texture I love, which I could never achieve when stir-frying my veggies.
If you don’t like lentils but do like curry, give this recipe a chance! The lentils simply disappear into the creamy sauce. You’ll get their protein and fiber without any “beany” flavor. It’s important to use red lentils, instead of the larger and firmer brown or green lentils.
I’m very excited about this recipe–which uses some of the same ingredients you may have bought for Craig Fear’s Thai soups–but this is just one great way to use roasted veggies! Once you’ve heated up your oven and set up your cutting board, knives, and oil, you might as well roast lots of veggies and plan several meals around them.
Or do what I did recently: Make the curry one day, and the next day reuse those greasy pans to roast another batch of veggies! (You know we like to save you time while you are preparing real food here at KS!)
Creamy Lentil Coconut Curry Recipe
Keep reading for 6 other ways to make totally different meals using veggies you could roast at the same time.
- A medley of vegetables totaling about 4 pounds, such as
- 6 small Asian eggplants or 1 typical American eggplant
- 1 bunch broccoli
- ¾ pound green beans
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 7 carrots
- ⅔ onion
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup uncooked red lentils
- 2 Tbsp. yellow curry powder
- 2 cloves garlic
- dash nutmeg
- 1 tsp. honey
- 15 oz. coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- salt to taste
- fish sauce to taste (I used about ½ tsp.)
- chili paste to taste (I used 2 Tbsp.)
- cilantro, if desired
- oil for roasting--I like to use coconut oil on the pan and drizzle peanut oil on top of the veggies.
- Cut up all the vegetables into small chunks. (I set aside the broccoli leaves and roasted them separately to use in another meal.)
- If using eggplant, place it in a colander over a bowl, and toss it with salt. Let stand while you prepare other ingredients. (This drains some of the bitter juice from the eggplant, improving its flavor and texture.)
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Start cooking rice, if you plan to eat rice with this meal.
- Put water, lentils, curry powder, nutmeg, and honey in a saucepan over high heat. Crush
inthe garlic. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes or until lentils are very soft and have absorbed most of the water.
- Meanwhile, grease the pans. You will need several pans with raised edges, such as cookie sheets, cake pans, or casserole dishes. You don't need to have a different pan for each vegetable.
- Spread vegetables in a single layer on pans. Drizzle with oil. Stir and flip so they are coated with oil on all sides.
- Place vegetables in
ovenand set timerfor 10 minutes. (I put in the first pan as soon as it's ready, then fill another pan, adding one to the oven every 10 minutes. I don't have the counter space to set out all the pans at once!)
timergoes off, stir vegetables and check if they are done. If not, give them another 10 minutes. Most vegetables take 20-40 minutes. They are done when they are browned and some pieces are a little blackened.
- As vegetables are ready, scoop them off the roasting pans into a large mixing bowl or soup pot. Cover it to keep warm.
- When all veggies are ready and the lentils are ready, combine them in the mixing bowl with the coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, and chili paste. Taste and adjust seasoning as you like. (If you didn't use salted eggplant, you'll probably need to add salt.)
- Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro, if desired.
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That’s one way to use roasted vegetables. What else can you do with them?
Opt for an Omelet
After an evening of roasting every veggie in the house, next morning you can warm up the leftovers and use them as omelet filling, or just scramble an egg into them. Roasted vegetables don’t even need to be refrigerated overnight–just store them in closed containers, and they’ll be fine! I like to keep mine in repurposed glass jars.
Serve a Buffet of Pasta Toppings
I recently stayed up late roasting bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and broccoli leaves. I sprinkled basil, oregano, garlic, and salt on the tomatoes, but everything else was simply coated in olive oil–except for pre-salting the eggplant, like in the recipe above.
I put each vegetable in its own jar. The next night, we had pasta with sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast flakes and the veggie toppings of each person’s choice. I had some of everything, with the crispy-chewy broccoli leaves on top!
When roasting veggies on a metal pan, you may want to use parchment paper to prevent sticking. I find glass or stoneware pans easier to clean, and the super scouring technique works better on those surfaces than on metal.
Veg Out a Marinara Sauce
On a cool day at the height of tomato season, I roasted about a dozen tomatoes, an onion, two bell peppers, a large zucchini, and a handful of mushrooms. Then I dumped them all (and the oil on them) into my soup kettle and pureed them with an immersion blender. I added a big can of tomato puree, basil, oregano, and garlic.
It turned into a rich-flavored marinara sauce with a texture so smooth, the kids never knew how many different vegetables they were eating!
I knew it was going well when my 12-year-old came into the kitchen just after I pureed the veggies, looked into the pot at this pinkish-yellowish-greenish goo, and said optimistically, “Well, it smells good–what is it?” instead of, “Eeww, I’m not eating that yucky stuff!”
Check out my tips for homemade marinara sauce and for roasting tomatoes. Roasting really brings out the natural sugars of tomatoes and peppers and reduces the acid, so you won’t need to add even a pinch of sugar to your sauce and you’ll avoid heartburn.
Make Them Mexican
Roasted peppers, onions, tomatoes, corn, or sweet potatoes add great flavor to burritos, tacos, or enchiladas! You might want to sprinkle the veggies with chili powder before putting them into the oven.
Mix up a quick cornbread crust and toss your leftover roasted vegetables on it with some beans and cheese for a delicious Mexican Pizza!
Snack on Crispy Stuff
Many vegetables, if sliced thinly and roasted at a high temperature, become crisp and delicious, like potato chips or popcorn. Sliced more thickly, they’re like French fries.
Try it with any root vegetable: potato, sweet potato, carrot, turnip, radish…. Also, check out Katie’s low-temperature dehydration method for making veggie chips.
Kale leaves roast up to potato-chip consistency. A relative made kale chips as a Thanksgiving appetizer a few years ago, and they were very popular! Even people who’ve never eaten kale may find kale chips addictive!
The leaves of cauliflower and broccoli are chewier, but shred them thinly and you’ll get a great crispy topping for your food. Or maybe you’ll just eat those shreds by the handful!
What? You thought broccoli leaves were very tiny, and cauliflower leaves were always chopped off? Well, that’s how it looks in most supermarkets. For some reason, they cut off the cauliflower’s protective outer leaves and then wrap it in plastic to protect it! Craziness.
Our CSA farm doesn’t trim the cauliflower or broccoli. We get them with big, dark green leaves loaded with vitamins! My son suggested roasting these leaves, and it turns out they’re wonderful! Roast leaves in a separate pan from the florets and stems of the broccoli/cauliflower, because the leaves will cook faster.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and okra also make great roasted snacks. Because okra is very moist, let it drain for a while after chopping (or while thawing, if it was frozen), and be prepared to roast it for up to an hour.
I like to mix curry powder into the roasting oil for okra. Roasted chickpeas are good with curry, too, or many other flavors–even cinnamon-sugar!
Kick Up Your Trusty Side Dish
Of course, roasted veggies make a great side dish for almost any main dish. Roasting gives veggies rich flavor that’s more interesting than steamed veggies. Roasted winter vegetables are a classic.
A favorite side dish for my family is broccoli, cauliflower, and/or Brussels sprouts roasted in olive oil and garlic. This is quick and easy to make using frozen vegetables--you don’t even have to thaw them completely, just thaw enough that you can break apart the individual pieces, and then let them finish defrosting in the oven.