7 Tips for Roasting Vegetables

robynmac/iStock via Getty Images Plus
robynmac/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Roasting is one of the simplest methods of cooking. Dry heat (usually from an oven) transforms raw ingredients into golden brown deliciousness. And while you can certainly roast proteins like beef and fish, some of the most delicious roasted recipes are vegetarian-friendly.

Here, courtesy of Chef Frank Proto at The Institute of Culinary Education, are seven tips for roasting vegetables.

  1. Cut your vegetables to roughly even sizes.

This will ensure nearly equal cooking time, and you won’t be left with any pieces charred to a crisp or raw on the inside.

  1. Coat liberally with olive oil and salt.

Most home cooks under-salt their food. Start with a generous pinch. Always taste your food before serving, and learn from experience how much salt is enough.

  1. Cook your vegetables in a single layer.

If they’re overcrowded, they’ll come out soggy, without the delicious crispy edges roasting can provide.

  1. Experiment with spices.

While salt and oil are all you need for delicious flavor, seasoning is a chance to push your flavors in one direction or another. Proto recommends coriander seed for carrots, while butternut squash can be tilted in a North African direction with cayenne and cumin. Follow your instincts or look to online recipes for inspiration.

  1. Get to know your produce.

Spongy vegetables like eggplant call for more oil and salt, while tomatoes can be cut in half and roasted skin-side up. The skins will blister in the oven and come off easily afterwards. You’ll get better with practice and won’t need recipes at all.

  1. Oven temperature is surprisingly flexible.

Whether you choose a gentle 350°F or crank the oven past 400, the important thing is to keep an eye on your food and remove from the heat when the outside is browned and the insides are tender. Vegetables like asparagus and zucchini will generally cook faster than tougher items like carrots and butternut squash, but your individual oven and the size of your cut veggies will also influence cook time.

  1. Observation is key.

As an experiment, check your vegetables after a few minutes, when you know they’ll be undercooked. Check several more times until they’re done, noting how they transform throughout the process. Soon you’ll be aware of the cues—visual, textural, and olfactory—that will lead you to roasted perfection.

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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The Long, Fascinating History of Chocolate

Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain

Walk into just about any grocery or convenience store today and you're sure to find row upon row of chocolate in every imaginable form. While we have come to associate this sweet treat with companies like Hershey, chocolate has been a delicacy for centuries.

All chocolate comes from the cacao tree, which is native to the Americas, but is now grown around the world. Inside the tree’s fruits, or pods, you’ll find the cacao beans, which—once roasted and fermented—give chocolate its signature rich and complex flavor. While we don't know who first decided to turn cacao beans into chocolate, we certainly owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

In this episode of Food History, we're digging into the history of chocolate—from its origins to the chocolate-fueled feud between J.S. Fry & Sons and Cadbury and much, much more. You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here!