A Roast with the Most: Fall Harvest Veggies

Roasting veggies brings out their sweetness.

The change of seasons brings with it a new group of fruits and vegetables. Apples, root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes and all the cabbage family foods, like broccoli and cauliflower, are at their peak now. And many are great for roasting—one of my favorite fall cooking methods.

With the grilling season over, I start giving a lot more foods the roasting treatment. The oven’s dry heat will caramelize the natural sugars in foods and brings a depth of flavor to fruits and vegetables that summer grilling can’t touch.

Root Veggie Roast

If you’ve never roasted root vegetables, you should give it 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 425 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 to contrast 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 fall flavor to your tossed salad.

Cauliflower Power

I was never much of a cauliflower lover until I started roasting it; now it’s become a fall 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. Fall 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.

Here’s another fall favorite recipe:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Parmesan

Even those who think they don’t like Brussels sprouts will admit that these are delicious. Roasting quickly with high heat mellows the flavor, and the Brussels sprouts end up tender and sweet. Tossed with a little fresh garlic and parmesan cheese, they make a fantastic side dish. If you have any left over, refrigerate and add to a tossed green salad the next day.

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet (large enough to hold sprouts in a single layer) with foil, and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Place baking sheet in the oven while you prepare the Brussels sprouts. Trim the ends of the Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Place in a medium bowl and add 2 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat with olive oil mixture. When oven is hot, toss sprouts onto prepared baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes or so, shaking the pan every 5 minutes until some of the outer leaves are nicely browned and crispy and sprouts are tender. Transfer Brussels sprouts to a serving bowl, add garlic and parmesan cheese and toss to coat.

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Fruits vs. Veggies: Which One Is Better for You?

Fruits and vegetables have vital nutrients.

Fruits and vegetables offer up natural plant compounds that help keep the body healthy, and variety is the key.

If you’re not a big fan of vegetables, you might think that you can make up for not eating them by eating lots of different fruits instead. It’s easy to see why. We almost always mention them in the same breath (“eat plenty of fruits and veggies”). Since they’re healthy plant foods, it’s natural to assume that they’re more or less interchangeable in terms of providing the nutrients the body needs.

To some extent that’s true. You can get your vitamin C just as easily from berries as from broccoli; potassium lurks in both beets and bananas. But fruits and veggies also offer up a dizzying and varied array of phytonutrients––natural plant compounds that can promote good health. So, getting the broadest range of phytonutrients is a lot more likely if you’re eating both fruits and vegetables.

Phytonutrients are responsible for the flavors and colors in fruits and vegetables. When you think about fruits and vegetables more from the standpoint of the huge range of flavors and hues they provide––and not so much as simply sources of vitamins and minerals––you can begin to appreciate how dissimilar they really are.

Berries and broccoli, for example, may look similar when it comes to their vitamin C content, but their phytonutrient profiles couldn’t be more different. Berries get their red-purple color from certain compounds that are a lot more widespread in fruits than in vegetables. On the other hand, there are different phytonutrients that are responsible for the strong odors found in broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. But you won’t find these smelly compounds in fruits. Another natural pigment, lycopene, gives a rich red color to fruits like tomatoes (yes, it’s a fruit), pink grapefruit and guava––but you’d be hard-pressed to find much in most vegetables.

I meet plenty of people who assume that eating fruits or vegetables is just as good as eating fruits and vegetables. So, I often use these examples to encourage them to get more variety in their diet. If this sounds like you, think of the hurdles in your way and how you might get over them.

Fewer people dislike fruits than veggies, and it’s often an issue of texture. If you don’t like the soft texture of ripe fruit, try whirling fresh or frozen fruit in the blender and add to smoothies or use as a topping on cottage cheese or yogurt. If some fruits are too tart for you, try the sweetest varieties. Tangerines, for example, are often sweeter than most oranges.

If you don’t like the texture of cooked veggies, try them raw. If strong flavors keep you from eating veggies, play around with seasonings, like herbs, garlic or citrus. You can also sneak them into soups, pasta sauces, casseroles and other healthy recipes. Or, cook them until tender-crisp, then chill and toss into a salad. That way you won’t pick up their strong odors in the steam.

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