Dear Lynne, 

Can I roast frozen vegetables instead of fresh? Summer vegetables are inexpensive so I roast them all season, but as the season winds down, good fresh vegetables get expensive. What about using frozen instead?  

–Karl in Salt Lake City

Dear Karl,

Frozen vegetables throw off so much water, they turn mushy before they ever brown. And they can be expensive.

Don’t give up on roasting because summer is over. Each season has bargains. For instance, right now the low price tags are on carrots, onions, potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, the cabbage family, beets, rutabagas, turnips and greens.

Earthy-tasting vegetables like rutabaga and turnips sweeten with roasting, especially if you mix them up with sweet potatoes and onions. Put some chard in the mix and let it get crisp. It’s delicious.

This recipe is a template. Switch vegetables and seasonings, but keep the proportions of earthy-tasting vegetables to sweeter ones (like onions to greens) as accents. Cut soft, faster-cooking vegetables into larger pieces and hard, slower-cooking ones into thinner pieces.

Roasted Sweet and Earthy Vegetables with Indian Spices

Serves 4 to 6; 20 minutes prep time; about 60 minutes oven time

  • 2 medium to large onions, cut into large wedges
  • 1 large sweet potato or yam cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into thin 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 3 branches chard or escarole, torn into bite-size pieces with stems chopped
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch chunks (optional)
  • 1/2 pound cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, cut into large flowerettes (halve the sprouts)
  • About 3 tablespoons good-tasting extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon medium-hot chile powder
  • Generous 1/2 teaspoon each ground coriander, cumin, black pepper and allspice salt
  • 8 large garlic cloves, halved
  • Juice of 1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Slip in a large, shallow baking pan (a half sheet pan is ideal) to heat up. In a large bowl, toss together all the ingredients except the garlic and lime. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you’d like.

2. Once the pan is hot, pull out the oven rack and carefully turn the contents of the bowl into the pan so as not to burn yourself. Spread everything out in the pan. Turn the heat down to 425ºF.

3. Roast the vegetables about an hour, turning several times during cooking for even browning. Add the garlic to the pan halfway through cooking. Once browned and easily pierced with a knife, the vegetables are done. Serve them hot, warm or at room temperature. Squeeze the lime over the vegetables shortly before serving. Whole milk yogurt spooned over the warm vegetables is delicious.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.