Vegetables as they are can already be delicious, colorful little bundles of health — but when you want your veg to really shine in flavor and looks, nothing works quite like the dry, powerful heat of a magnificent oven. Pop in a tray of greens, reds and oranges at 400°-450° Fahrenheit, and pop out a beautiful selection of juicy, crunchy, sweet plant-based goodness.
Here’s a selection of some of the best oven-baked veg, for you to enjoy in less than an hour.
#1. Red Beets
Among the harder, hardier, and sweeter of underground treasures, the red beet is a purplish-red root with a ton of vitamin C — in this case, that stands for Caramel. Prick em with a fork, pop em in the oven, and with a little oil and an hour of slow roasting, you’ve got an amazing juicy treat.
An oven is a quick, delicious way to get your tomato sauce game on — not only does roasting tomatoes enhance their sweetness, it also brings out their acidity, giving them that necessary bite among a tray of otherwise incredibly savory vegetables. They also soften to an overwhelmingly delicate pulp, in contrast to most of the other examples on this list.
Alongside tomatoes, asparagus roasts fairly quickly in the oven — keep an eye on them, as they’ll brown within 15 minutes. It’s a small, less sturdy example — but one packed full of flavor. To complement exactly that, squeeze a lemon over the finished product and add a very shy amount of nutmeg.
#4. Sweet Potatoes
Although sweet potatoes (unlike the wild versions of their counterpart) can be eat raw, nothing brings out the taste of these yams quite like an oven. Crusted and caramelized around its corners, soft and fluffy in its center — to dessert-ify your orange roots, glaze them in honey, salt and cinnamon. Yum.
#5. Bell Peppers
While the capsicum is remotely related to the tomato, the bell pepper is the sturdier between the two cousins. With colors like red, green and everything in between, they make the most perfect veg cups for homemade oven-baked risotto and couscous. Get creative with your fillings, and you’ll have yourself an awesome treat!
Good for the eyes, and good for the soul, carrots stay crunchy and become sweeter (and smaller!) during the process of a good roast. Similar to beets and sweet potatoes, carrots need at least 40 minutes to an hour in the oven before they’re ready to be served.
Eggplant can be a tricky vegetable to work with. They soak a lot of oil, and possess a strange, unique texture. That isn’t to say, however, that this vegetable doesn’t deserve being on this list. With garlic, a (small) crowd of fellow vegetables and a few splashes of EVOO, a fork-picked unpeeled eggplant can become the perfect addition to your tray without turning into a fat sponge.
When paired with quick-roasting veg, steam the eggplant in a rice cooker or steamer beforehand.
Zucchini, the distant brother of the cucumber, has a joyous, almost refreshing taste straight out of the oven. Compared to the strong sweetness of other vegetables, the zucchini is a chance for flavors to soak and become one, especially hardy herbs like rosemary and thyme, and the heartiness of minced garlic. Trimmed from their sponginess and quartered, these babies take no more than 20 minutes.
Although large onions are already known for their sweetness, it’s their red cousins that give more of a bite, and truly come alive in the heat of the moment. They can take up to half an hour to brown, and are best paired with garlic and tomatoes for the makings of an awesome pasta sauce.
Roasting garlic turns it from a pungent bulb into a delicious, savory, golden butter-esque cream with just the slightest hint of sweetness. It’s also an awesome way to save yourself the trouble of peeling — just squeeze the end product out of its antiquated housing and onto your plate.
Turnips can take quite a long while to get going — up to 50 minutes on high heat — but when roasted they make a transformation from lightly sweet and crisp to a tender, caramelized sort of goodness. Pair with parsnips for a rooty combo!
Like most vegetables that, when raw, inspire one to yawn rather than drool, the cauliflower is a master of transformation when in contact with the dry heat of the oven. Once sugar and fire combine in passionate harmony, we get a roasted vegetable that tastes like a far cry from its pre-heat edition. Paired with lemon and garlic, it can be addictive.
Although most wouldn’t guess that the squash and pumpkin are related to the cucumber and the zucchini, these hardier vine fruits are characterized by sweet, yet jaw-challenging flesh. Yet pop them in an oven for half an hour to an hour (depending on the squash), and the flesh yields to a creamy, delicious pulp perfect for soups, sauces, purees or on its own.
Few things beat baked potatoes. If you’re looking for classical starchy grub, then an oven-touched tater is the best anyone could do — season with salt and pepper, and you have yourself a fan-favorite carb. Sliced into thin wedges and drizzled with olive oil, you’ve got yourself a healthier alternative to deep-fried French fries.