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Healthy Cooking: Learn to Roast Vegetables

By Derek Sarno, January 27, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Derek Sarno

Roasted Root VegetablesYou don't have to be a professional chef to master cooking methods that will give you the skills needed to prepare healthier meals. As I mentioned in the first blog post in this series, a good step towards healthy eating is to reduce or eliminate added oils in your cooking. All too often, I’ve found that when cooking with oils, many tend to over use and it becomes a habit to add more oil than needed. Unfortunately, this can add a lot of extra calories to your foods. Using a variety of cooking techniques allows you to achieve flavor without the addition of olive, canola and vegetable oils.

Roasting is one of these cooking methods that I use often with vegetables to get a deeper, robust flavor. With roasting, high heat and a long cooking time allows vegetables to stay juicy on the inside while getting a lightly caramelized exterior that intensifies the flavor. A variety of vegetables such as broccoli, beets, carrots, pumpkin, turnips, parsnips, cauliflower, asparagus, squash and peppers can all be roasted without using oil. Often, I moisten the vegetables by adding a small amount of vegetable stock or wine to the bottom of the pan and, if needed, use more vegetable stock to dress the vegetables after they are cooled. The cooking time and heat will need to be adjusted depending on the size and type of vegetable you will be roasting. Check your recipe for specifics.

Portobello MushroomOne of my favorite vegetables to roast is portobello mushrooms. These large brown mushrooms have a dense, almost meat-like texture when cooked. They lend themselves well to roasting and you don’t need a drop of oil – so you’ve already eliminated those extra calories!

I like to add a simple homemade apricot-soy sauce to the mushroom before roasting for added flavor. To make this simple and tasty sauce, soak 5 – 6 dried apricots in boiling water, covered for 15 – 20 minutes, until they soften. Then process them in a blender or food processor with ¼ cup of the soaking water, until they are smooth. Add ½ cup of low-sodium soy sauce to the blended apricots and one tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger and process again until smooth and completely mixed. Voilà – you have a delicious Asian-style sauce and condiment!

You’ll have extra apricot-soy sauce that can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can use this as a zesty condiment to steamed vegetables or as a marinade for chicken or tofu.

To prepare the portobello mushroom, cut off the bottom end of the stem, about a half inch, leaving most of the stem intact. Brush off any dirt on the mushroom. Place the mushroom cap-side down on an ungreased cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Portobello Mushroom Spoon about two tablespoons of the apricot-soy sauce into the cap of the mushroom, making sure to add only enough so that the sauce doesn’t spill over the sides and onto the sheet pan. The sauce will soak into the underside gills as the mushroom roasts. The moisture will draw out of the portobello as it cooks and it starts to soften, giving the mushroom its meaty texture. Roast the mushroom about 15 to 20 minutes until it softens. Remove from the oven and let the mushroom rest and cool before cutting. This savory, slow-cooked mushroom is delicious sliced and added to a salad, served whole as an entrée with a side of brown rice and Creamy Sesame Greens, or added to a rice noodle bowl.

Health Starts Here If you prefer not to use the apricot-soy sauce, spray the portobello with water or stock prior to placing it in the oven to roast. Roasting is one of many ways that you can prepare foods that not only taste delicious but also help to maintain the nutrients and vitamins in the foods you are cooking. Using this oil-free, healthy cooking technique with vegetables elicits profound and robust flavors.

Go ahead and try roasting a mushroom and let me know what you think. Here’s to healthy eating!




LoveGreenOrganic says ...
Thank you for this mouth watering recipes! This is super delicious and I want to cook like this soon.
01/27/2011 7:33:49 AM CST
Jane says ...
I joined a CSA last year which has really helped us with eating local and organic. We've also started eating a larger variety of grains - now barley and quinoa are staples for us. In addition to grains, we always have beans, organic canned tomatoes, chicken and vegetable broths for quick healthy meals.
01/27/2011 8:56:26 AM CST
Joanne DiVico says ...
I love shopping the 1-day sales and plan to do more of that in 2011. You get to eat healthy and save $$.
01/27/2011 9:39:59 AM CST
KP Targe says ...
I've discovered roasted beets are wonderful to slice and serve as a side dish, and even better served cold on a salad with goat cheese. Roasting vegetables is easy. I just cut them into 1 inch slices, toss in a bit of olive oil and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes. I can serve with a bit of salt and pepper or toss them into a rice dish. I can also roast in advance and refrigerate them for up to 3 days until I need them. In order to get more green vegetables, I've been adding spinach and other greens to rice dishes, sauces and even on store bought pizzas. KP
01/27/2011 2:33:17 PM CST
Firma contabilitate says ...
Everytime I read something here I'm craving instantly. Of course, today was no exception. Thank you so much for these ideas.
01/28/2011 4:56:12 AM CST
Megan says ...
I LOVE roasted vegetables. My favorite is a mix of potatoes (sweet and regular) with onion and red peppers. It is great by itself, or with rice. Thanks for reminding me-- definitely going to make this tonight!
01/29/2011 8:32:54 AM CST
Monique says ...
This recipe that I have done at Whole Foods Cooking classes roasting Cauliflower and Carrots, is always a hit. Check out http://aldentecanoodler.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/a-memorable-pasta-recipe/ for the full recpe
02/04/2011 6:22:04 AM CST
Renee Pratta says ...
Awesome recipe... very tasty!
02/06/2011 5:54:14 PM CST
Kate says ...
Roasted vegetables are satisfying as a side or a main dish. Here's a simple gluten-free marinade: 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 cup apple cider and a splash of agave (or maple syrup or honey). Whisk together, then pour of your veggies before roasting. http://bread-n-chocolate.blogspot.com/2011/02/apple-cider-vegetables.html
02/06/2011 8:19:30 PM CST
Amanda says ...
Would you recommend roasting on a cookie sheet or in a container with a lid?
02/07/2011 6:31:02 PM CST
missjsifuentes says ...
I place a light olive oil spray on sweet potatoes and bake them! Super awesome! I am getting use to just eating bowls full of veggies. I tried out a recipe I found on Exercise Tv's blog the other day that was pretty awesome!
02/08/2011 7:44:33 PM CST
Monique says ...
Another simple, quick, healthy recipe for roasted vegetables and pasta with Tofu.Beautiful photos, too! http://aldentecanoodler.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/feeling-the-love/
02/10/2011 1:08:30 PM CST
Kris says ...
I noticed that your recipe calls for a lower temperature than most roasting recipes -- 375 degrees instead of 425+ that I see in recipes with oil. Is that the trick to managing roast vegetables without the additional fats? Will you still get that caramelized flavor (for instance on onions)?
04/26/2011 1:30:26 PM CDT
Anna Weisberg says ...
Can you do this with sweet potatoes? Do you know if there's a guide to temperatures and times for a variety of veggies? Thanks!
04/29/2013 11:30:46 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@ANNA - Mushrooms contain quite a bit of water in them so this is probably why they work nicely in the oven without oil. You can experiment with sweet potatoes but I was unable to find a recipe. You can search for other HSH sweet potato recipes on our site at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/search/sweet%20potato?f%5B0%5D=field_recipe_featured_in%3A8481.
05/02/2013 4:20:54 PM CDT
stevo says ...
that mushroom looks lonely in the oven by itself...
09/08/2013 1:24:21 AM CDT