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.

Each State’s Favorite Christmas Candy


Halloween might be the unrivaled champion of candy-related holidays, but that doesn’t mean Christmas hasn’t carved out a large, chocolate Santa-shaped niche for itself in the sweets marketplace. And, of course, we can’t forget about candy canes, peppermint bark, and the red-and-green version of virtually every other kind of candy.

To find out which candies merrymakers are filling their bowls and stomachs with this holiday season, CandyStore.com analyzed survey responses from more than 32,000 consumers across the nation and compiled their top responses into one mouthwatering map.

As it turns out, 13 states—from California all the way to New Jersey—are reaching for mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups over any other holiday candy. Something about that shimmery tinfoil really does make you feel like you’re unwrapping a tiny, tasty gift.

CandyStore.com Top Christmas Candy by State

Source: CandyStore.com

And, if you hoped everyone would kiss candy corn goodbye until next October, we have some bad news: “reindeer” corn, with red, white, and green stripes, is the top choice in a staggering eight states, all of which are in the eastern half of the country. Tied with reindeer corn was peppermint bark, which, given how much white chocolate it contains, is also a pretty polarizing choice.

Candy canes and Hershey’s Kisses clinched third place with a respectable six states apiece, but other Christmas classics didn’t perform nearly as well—chocolate Santas and M&M’s came out on top in only two states each.

After that, there were some rather unconventional competitors, including Starburst, Arkansas’s favorite holiday candy; and Pez, which somehow won the hearts of residents of both Louisiana and New Mexico. 

And, unless you’re time-traveling from the 18th century, you’re probably not surprised that sugarplums didn’t make the map at all—find out what they actually are (hint: not plums!) here. You can also search the full list of state favorite candies below.

Source: CandyStore.com

Relax: Fears of a French Fry Shortage Are Probably Overblown

magann/iStock via Getty Images
magann/iStock via Getty Images

Americans love their French fries. According to The New York Times, Americans eat an average of an average of 115.6 pounds of white potatoes annually, "of which two-thirds are in the form of French fries, potato chips and other frozen or processed potato products."

If you’re someone who annually devours the weight of a small child in fries at McDonald's or elsewhere, you’ll be distressed that potato farmers are facing a shortage—one that could create a fry crisis. But these concerns are likely overblown.

According to Bloomberg, a cold snap in October led to crop-threatening frosts at potato farms in Manitoba in Canada, as well as in North Dakota and Minnesota. In Manitoba, 12,000 acres went unharvested, the equivalent to what was left behind in all of Canada last season. Fields in Idaho and Alberta, Canada, were also hit, but some crops were able to be salvaged. Combined with increased demand in Canada for spuds, North America is looking at a potential tuber deficit.

Why are fries facing shortages, but not mashed potatoes? Fry vendors prefer bigger potatoes for slicing, which tend to be harvested later in the year and were subject to ground freezing and other damage.

This all sounds like cause for national alarm, but the spud industry has taken measures to keep the market fed. Potato experts told Bloomberg that while potato shipments will likely have to be rerouted from more fertile farms and into new distribution channels, the consumer may not notice any difference. A plea for rational thought was echoed by Frank Muir, president of Idaho Potato Commission. Muir told The New York Times that while Idaho is down 1 billion spuds, the state still managed 13 billion. His message to consumers is “Don’t panic … You can still go out and order them as you normally do.”

According to Muir, the major fast food chains—McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King, among others—have temperature-controlled storage for their potatoes and probably have an inventory to fall back on. Rationing won't be needed—unless, of course, you’re watching your weight.

[h/t Bloomberg]