One of the principles of the Mediterranean Diet is to eat a variety of foods from all colors of the rainbow. Roasting a mix of vegetables is a great way to check some of the color boxes. This simple recipe for roasted broccoli and bell pepper will help you accomplish that. You can even use a variety of bell peppers (orange, yellow) or throw in some cubed squash or sweet potato for added color.
Roasting vegetables is probably my favorite thing to do in the kitchen, and a skill anyone should master. Above all, it creates wonderful tasting caramelized bits of goodness. Secondly, you can use the technique with just about any vegetable you can think of. And finally, it is very flexible and forgiving. After a few practice runs, you’ll be able to decide what works best for your taste and your oven: higher or lower temperature, shorter or longer time, flipping halfway through or leaving the vegetables alone… You can also choose to roast them plain and add seasonings later, or season them before roasting. It’s really a matter of personal experimentation.
If you are curious about seasoning experiments, Bon Appetit offers an “Ultimate Guide to Roasting Your Vegetables“. While some of the suggestions in this guide are not Mediterranean Diet friendly (example: bacon fat…), it provides some great ideas of flavor combinations.
In addition, this article by Karen Miner in Mashed “Mistakes you’re making when cooking vegetables” provides some excellent tips.
Tools you need
My baking sheets are by far what gets the most use in my kitchen. If you don’t have one (or two) yet, you can buy a variety of baking sheets at a wide range of prices. I do not recommend “non-stick” sheets. Plain aluminum sheets are more durable and easier to clean. And if you’re worried about cooking in aluminum, I always line my sheets with parchment paper for easy clean-up, so the aluminum is not in contact with the food anyway. My favorite sheets are from Nordic Ware – they are one of the few kitchen tools still made in the USA!
Unbleached parchment paper is a godsend for those who hate scrubbing dishes… Most of the time, once I have thrown away the parchment paper, I just give my baking sheets a quick wipe and they are ready to store.
Some tips on roasting vegetables
- Size: one important rule to get your vegetables to roast evenly is to cut them in pieces that are of similar size. If some are much larger than others, the smaller ones will be burnt before the larger ones are cooked.
- Coating the vegetables with oil: in order to get the most uniform thin coat of oil all over your vegetables, which will hep create a nice caramelization, I recommend tossing your vegetables with oil in a bowl with your hands prior to spreading them onto the baking sheet. If you are lazy and want to save washing a bowl, you can skip that step and drizzle your vegetables with oil right into your baking sheet. Just don’t come complaining to me that your veggies don’t look right!
- Seasonings: if you want to season your vegetables with salt and pepper, dry herbs or spices, the time to do so is while they are in the bowl. Again, hand tossing will ensure they get everywhere!
- No overcrowding: do not overcrowd your baking sheet. Spread them in a single layer, preferably without touching each other. Use two sheets if needed. Otherwise the vegetables will steam and not roast.
- Temperature: If this is your first attempt at roasting vegetables, I recommend starting with an oven temperature of 400°F. Once you get the hang of it, experiment with 425°F or 450°F if you like darker edges. However, I do not recommend using olive oil above 425°F; avocado oil is a possible substitute since it has a higher smoke point.
- Time: start by setting your timer for 20 minutes. Most vegetables will be ready by then, but some take a bit longer. Take a peak. If they are not browned to your liking, add 5 minutes. Check again and add another 5 if needed. As a rule of thumb, firm vegetables like root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips) or Brussels sprouts are best cooked for a longer time at a lower temperature. Soft watery vegetables (zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, eggplant) on the other hand, can take higher temperatures and a shorter cooking time. If you are roasting different kinds of vegetables that require different cooking times, add them to the baking sheet in stages.
- Flipping or no flipping: I find that most vegetables do best left alone during the entire roasting time. Opening the oven and flipping create a drop in temperature that results in soggier vegetables in my humble opinion. This is again a matter of personal preference and experimentation. Your call!
Once you try these roasted broccoli and bell peppers, you will want to roast just about anything in sight!
Other recipes you might like
Roasted broccoli and bell pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut broccoli in small florets of equal size.
- Remove core and seeds from bell pepper and slice in 1/2" strips.
- Place vegetables in a bowl. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss with your hands until vegetables are nicely coated with oil.
- Spread onto baking sheet. Do not overcrowd the sheet. Use 2 if necessary.
- Place in the oven and bake 20 minutes without disturbing the vegetables.
- Check and cook a few more minutes if needed to reach your desired level of browning.
- Serve immediately or cool down and eat cold or at room temperature.