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Roasting Fall Vegetables
by Charlie Burke

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Root crops are at their peak in the fall; with
the exception of parsnips which gain
sweetness in the ground, fall turnips,
beets and carrots lose their sugar with
prolonged storage. When roasted, these
sugars caramelize, deepening and
enriching flavors. Winter squashes,
leeks, garlic and onions can be added
to the mix. The preparation is easy and
can be done ahead which is a plus for
entertaining or for week night meals.
Roast a single vegetable as was done
with the carrots or a mix such as carrot,
sweet potato and squash.

Once you are comfortable with high temperature roasting you can mix and
match according to availability of vegetables and your family’s preference.
Roasted beets and carrots are great additions to salads or can stand alone. Beets
are great in a salad with goat cheese, and carrots tossed with a little lemon juice
and sesame oil are delicious. Roasted vegetables also are great additions to
soups or pasta sauces.

Preparation is simple, but there are a few important steps.

Cut the vegetables into fairly uniform size to ensure even cooking, usually
about 1 – 1 ½ inch cubes or wedges and pick a roasting pan large enough to
hold them in one layer. Some fat is necessary to promote browning, but
surprisingly little is required, no more than a couple teaspoons for a small
amount and up to a couple tablespoons for a large roasting pan. We use olive
oil, adding it to the pan and tossing the pieces until all are lightly filmed. Add
salt and pepper and dried herbs such as marjoram, sage or oregano. If you
prefer fresh herbs, add them toward the end
of cooking.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and cook, turning the vegetables about half
way through cooking. Root crops and squash usually are done in 25-30
minutes, but start checking at about 20 minutes. You’ll find many ways to enjoy
vegetables cooked this way which really enhances their flavor.  

About the author
An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice president of
the New Hampshire Farmer’s Market Association (
www.nhfma.org) and helps
run the Sanbornton Farmers' Market. Along with his wife, Joanne, he grows
certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton,
NH.  
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