Glazing takes roasted vegetables from earthy to out of this world

Graphic: Karl Gustafson

You may already know the basic technique for roasting vegetables: Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces, toss them with olive oil and salt, spread them on a cookie sheet, and pop them into a hot oven. Within an hour, you’re done.

But are you ready to upgrade to a more flavorful way to prepare them? Glazed and roasted vegetables are little more complicated, but they’ll make you feel like you’re serving something from the fancy grocery store’s carry-out case—and might even make your side dish the meal’s star. These vegetables’ glaze involve something sweet, something spicy, a little olive oil and some sea salt, but the whole is so much more than the sum of the parts. Glazing roasted vegetables is a simple kitchen technique, but once you’ve learned it, you’ll find it indispensable.

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I recommend using firmer vegetables, such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, small sweet potatoes, or turnips. Broccoli and cauliflower can burn fairly easily, so stick with the basic roasting method for those vegetables.

Even for firmer vegetables, oven temperature is still important. Don’t be tempted to blast your vegetables; that will only increase the chances of burning them. An oven temperature of 375-400º Fahrenheit is high enough—any higher, and you can wind up singing all your work.

As for spices, I gravitate toward complex, savory ones. I like Aleppo pepper, Chinese five spice, za’atar, sumac, chile (the Trader Joe’s chile-lime blend is perfect), turmeric, ginger, and ground coriander. Some people like to go with traditional pastry spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, or clove.

By the way, this recipe isn’t like your grandmother’s glazed carrots or sweet potatoes. The spice you use can give it complexity, and I promise it won’t taste like you melted apricot jam and poured it on top.

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Photo: robynmac (iStock)
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Glazed Roasted Vegetables

  • 2 cups of chopped vegetables
  • 3 Tbsp. syrup (maple, corn, cane, simple)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. spices of your choice (see the above list)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, if desired

Set the oven at 400º Fahrenheit. If using carrots or turnips, cut vegetables in two-inch slices on a diagonal. Brussels sprouts and small potatoes should be cut in half. You can roast small sweet potatoes whole; just trim off either end.

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Line a baking sheet or a glass baking dish with aluminum foil. (I prefer non-stick foil, but if you’re using regular foil, spray it with Pam or vegetable spray. I’ve tried making these on parchment paper, but the glaze makes them sticky, so a non-stick surface is best.)

Combine the syrup, oil, and spice in a mixing bowl, and combine thoroughly. Add the vegetables, and mix well. Spread the veggies on the baking sheet, and add salt on top if desired.

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Roast vegetables for 30 minutes. Open the oven, and stir the vegetables. Test them for doneness with a fork. If needed, roast another 10-15 minutes (potatoes can sometimes take an hour). If you see any signs of them starting to char, whisk the pan out of the oven.

Take the roasting pans out of the oven, and carefully empty the contents into your mixing bowls. Spoon any remaining glaze over the vegetables, and be careful not to splash any of it on your fingers, because it will be hot.

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Stir the vegetables once more, and let them sit about five minutes for the glaze to cool and adhere. Then, put on a platter or in bowls and serve.

Glazed roast vegetables are wonderful warm, but they also taste great cold. Add them to salads and rice bowls, chop them up to use as a basis for hash (they are delicious with a runny egg on top), or just enjoy them on their own. You’ll find new reasons to make them all winter long.

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