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Dec 9, 2009 02:28 PM

ROASTED VEGETABLES--is the heat too high? What is your technique? Pan of water?

I had always roasted my vegetables (cauliflower, potatoes, fennel, brussel sprouts, etc etc) at 425, but these comments from a recent NY Times article prompted me to lower the heat, with great results. I thought I'd share:

"I also decided to work on my vegetable-roasting skills.

Not so long ago, we Americans were famous for boiling vegetables into submission. In the 21st century, we roast every vegetable in sight. But my blast-furnaced specimens often emerge dry, charred and leathery.

“I never go above 375 degrees in a home oven,” counseled chef Ilene Rosen of City Bakery, in the Flatiron district, where the roasted vegetables are consistently golden and tender. She said high temperatures dry out and brown the food too fast. “Vegetables only release that secret buttery sweetness when they turn golden and then brown,” she said. A dish of hot water placed in the bottom of the oven when you turn it on produces the steamy heat that keeps the vegetables succulent. Using her method and the convection function on my oven, I achieved roasted vegetable Nirvana over and over again."

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  1. I generally roast veggies at 400 or 425, no pan of water. I usually just toss with olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and let them go. I tend to use large chunks of veggies, and do not find that they get overly charred or leathery. However, my favorite way to roast veggies is under a chicken, so they are full of wonderful chicken fat. I may have to try the 375 method, just to see the difference.

    1 Reply
    1. re: elfcook

      I always roast veggies well coated with olive oil, salt and pepper on the bottom of my oven so they'll brown, at 425. Never had a dried out, charred piece yet. Maybe they'd skimped on the oil? I may try the lower temp, but seems to me they'd be cooked to mush without the rich carmelization.

    2. I recently began roasting whole sweet potatoes at 375 instead of my usual 425. They come out much creamier at the lower temperature. I usually roast vegetables in a toaster oven and I did have some charring with broccoli and cauliflower, around the florets. I am now experimenting with the 375 temp. But no pan of water. I tried putting the broccoli IN a pan with about a quarter inch of water last week and it turned an unappealing dreary green color.

      7 Replies
      1. re: erica

        Creamier sounds good. Did the skin carmelize much?

        1. re: mcf

          I would say that the skin emerged the same as it did at the higher temperatures. Some blistering but not crispy all over. I would say that the creaminess factor is especially notable with the white sweet potatoes which are my new love.

          BTW: I cut off the ends of the potato and poke holes in the skin before placong in the oven. Not sure if this is necessary or not to keep potato from "exploding." (Do others poke the holes in the skin?)

          1. re: erica

            I pierce the skins any time I'm cooking whole potatoes. I don't cut the ends off because I love how carmelized the skinnier parts get.

            1. re: erica

              I always poke a few for holes in potatoes before baking, Not sure if they would really explode if this wasn't done, but it's something I always saw done and it takes about 2 seconds, so I do it.

              1. re: pemma

                Please believe me and my smoke alarm, they explode.

                1. re: miss louella

                  Yes, and so do spaghetti squash, btw. Rather spectacularly so. :-)

                  1. re: mcf


                    Thank you -- you may've prevented an imminent disaster!

        2. The other factor is whether you are using a dark or light metal pan. If I roast 2 pans (one of each type) at the same temp (375-400) the veggies in the dark color pan will cook much darker. Sometimes people forget about reducing the heat for dark pans.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BeeZee

            I use a pyrex pan at 375F. I've used 400F once in my lifetime, it came out slightly burnt, and I have never turned back.

          2. I usually roast vegetables at 400-450, coated with plenty of olive oil and always like the results. I usually do squash, string beans, asparagus.

            1. I roast prob at least 3 times a week, changing all the time. If i'm in a hurry, I'll bump it up to 425 but if not 375 works too. the only time I screwed up was when I added frozen corn to my mix - NOT good!!!! burnt big time.

              I've roasted everything, I just love it. My favs have to been mushrooms, red onions, butternut squash, eggplant, red peppers and I love cumin. Adding chickpeas really takes the mix over the edge too.

              I just roast what is in the fridge and that changes all the time - oh, love cabbage roasted too. broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sproats.