I’ve been working on perfecting roasted root vegetables for awhile. Getting them to come out of the oven crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside is no small feat. Should you parboil first? How hot should the oven be? I’ve gone back and forth about the parboiling question. For years, I’ve been too lazy to bother and I thought that I was getting by just fine. That all changed the other day, when I followed the recipe in Jamie Oliver’s latest book, Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals. He got me to parboil again and I don’t think I will ever go back.
Click on the book to see more:
The other revelation? Heat the olive oil, along with the smashed garlic cloves and rosemary in the roasting pan first, on the stove top. Then toss the vegetables in the heated, flavored oil to coat (before roasting in a 400˚F oven). The vegetables roast evenly, and the flavor diffuses throughout.
See the nice browning on the potatoes? That comes as a result of scuffing up the potatoes while draining them in the colander. Scuffing the potatoes increases the surface area exposed to the warm air, shortening the time for moisture to evaporate the starches (sugars) to caramelize and turn brown.
And of course, don’t break the cardinal rule: make sure the vegetables are not overcrowded. Overcrowding in the roasting pan leads to “steaming” which produces limp, soggy vegetables that can’t brown. Make sure there is only one layer of vegetables and adequate space between them.
- 2 medium Idaho potatoes
- 6 parsnips
- 6 carrots
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 400°F
- Peel the vegetables and halve any larger ones lengthways. Break the garlic bulb into cloves, leaving them unpeeled, and bash them slightly with the palm of your hand. Strip off the rosemary leaves from the stalks.
- Put the potatoes and carrots into a large pan – you may need to use two – of salted, boiling water on a high heat and bring back to the boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then add the parsnips and cook for another 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and allow to steam dry. Take out the carrots and parsnips and put to one side. Fluff up the potatoes in the colander by shaking it around a little – it’s important to ‘chuff them up’ like this if you want them to have all those lovely crispy bits when they’re cooked
- Put a large roasting pan over medium heat and either add 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary leaves. Put the vegetables into the tray with a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir them around to coat. Spread them out evenly into one layer – this is important, as you want them to roast, not steam as they will if you have them all on top of each other.
- Put the baking dish in the preheated oven and cook, stirring the vegetables occasionally, until they are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes.