Looking to create healthy dinners without slaving in the kitchen every evening? Roast a batch of delicious vegetables for dinner one night and use the leftovers to create different meals over the next few days.
If you are looking for an easy midweek meal, it can be all too tempting to reach for convenience food. However, ready meals, takeaway and the like are often packed with excess salt, sugar and fat, not to mention calories.
This is where our easy roasted vegetables come in. Cook up a big batch of these one night and you can transform the leftovers into different meals throughout the week.
We’re sharing our tried and tested advice on how to roast vegetables, then adding five quick and healthy recipes that incorporate them in different ways.
This is a meal prep recipe, but it’s the kind of batch cooking that will work for people who dread the thought of eating the same thing day after day. One slightly longer cooking session means you have the option of a variety easy meals in the days that follow.
How to roast vegetables
Once you have the basics of roasting vegetables, you should be able to adapt them to cook any variety you like - from wintry root vegetables to summer squash.
Some things to bear in mind before you start:
- If your vegetables need to be washed or peeled before eating, do this before roasting (though the skins of most vegetables contain high levels of nutrients so you should think about keeping them on)
- Not everything will cook at the same rate, but if you chop everything into similarly sized chunks then they'll certainly cook more evenly
- To roast well, vegetables need to be in one layer and not too crowded. Consider using two or more tins if you're cooking a big batch
We recommend roasting everything at 200°C, but every oven is different so go with what works for you.
Vegetables are ready when they're both tender and starting to brown on the edges. These times are just a guide, though hopefully a helpful one.
This is by no means a definitive list of what can be roasted: you can roast almost any vegetable. Once you have tried a few types it becomes a lot easier to guess how long new varieties will take to cook.
If you've chosen veg with different cooking times, simply start some earlier than others.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes carrots, parsnips, beetroot : 40-60 minutes
These will take the longest time to cook. At least half an hour but it depends on what size you cut them into.
Remember, these are high in carbohydrates so won't pair as well (taste or health wise!) with other starchy foods such as pasta or bread.
Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, aubergines, onions: 30-40 minutes
These take slightly less time than the hardier veg above but still benefit from quite a while in the oven.
If you have never tried roasted broccoli, you're missing out!
Courgettes, peppers, mushrooms; 20-30 minutes
These are soft already and don't need as much time. They may also release some water while in the oven so keep an eye on them. It won't do any harm but it may slow down the roasting.
A serving of vegetables is 80g, which is as good a way as any to decide on your quantities for roasting. Think about how many meals you want to provide veg for and how many portions you'd like to get into each, and from there you can work out how many multiples of 80g you should cook.
Once everything is cooked, it helps to immediately portion out the cooked vegetables. Any portions you aren't eating now, cool them quickly and store them in the fridge.
Oil will help your vegetables to cook, and if you use olive oil (which we highly recommend) then it will add healthy, unsaturated fats as well as flavour.
Still, oil is high in calories. Around one tablespoon is enough per portion. Drizzle it over the veg and toss well to distribute.
Spices and seasoning
Try not to use too much salt on your vegetables, though a pinch per portion will help to bring out the flavours.
Spices, on the other hand, can be used liberally. Black pepper goes well with everything, and other spices or even dried herbs can be added to liven up the taste.
Cumin and coriander add a warm earthiness. Basil and oregano add a Mediterranean fragrance. Dried chilli flakes add a kick.
Think about your favourite herbs and spices and the chances are they'll work well. Simply sprinkle over when you add the oil, toss everything really well to coat and pop in the oven.
Storing food safely
If cooled quickly and stored in the fridge, these roasted vegetables should be safe to eat for 2-3 days after they come out of the oven.
If you won't eat them all at once, you can freeze them for up to three months.
5 ways to make the most of your leftover roast veg
We’ve collected five of our favourite ways to use leftover vegetables, all of which you can have on your table in 30 minutes or less. These are not formal recipes but rather inspiration.
Many people think that eating well has to involve advanced cooking skills, endless lists of ingredients and hours in the kitchen. This is simply not true. Preparing a healthy meal can be both quick and easy, especially if you plan in advance.
With this guide, we want to show you that good food - by which we mean healthy food that tastes good - doesn't have to take forever.
Easy fish and roast vegetables
Simply reheat a portion of veg and serve it alongside your favourite fish. Opt for an oily fish such as mackerel, trout or salmon – they’re rich in omega 3 fatty acids which can help to prevent heart disease.
This is about ease, so choose a fish and a method you're used to. Poached, grilled, baked, pan-cooked... they'll all work. Sprinkle over some chopped fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon for an extra burst of flavour.
Or, if you’re looking for a packed lunch for work, serve the veg at room temperature alongside tinned fish.
Pizza is the ultimate convenience food, and if you make it at home you can do so relatively healthily. Loading your base with pre-cooked vegetables adds layers of flavour they wouldn’t get from a quick cook in the oven.
If you (or your kids) love pizza but are trying to cut back on the calories, substitute the traditional base for a tortilla or pitta bread and don’t be too liberal with the cheese.
Many supermarkets now offer pizza bases made from vegetables. These are also worth experimenting with.
Roast vegetable flatbreads
If you are looking for a midweek meal that’s on the table in minutes, this is for you. An easy recipe made all the easier by the fact you've done most of the prep already.
Reheat a portion or two of the roasted vegetables, drizzle over a little oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat a wholemeal flatbread and pile high with the veg. Crumble over a little feta (around 30g should be enough) and dig in.
This is great for anyone who is looking to consume fewer animal products - perhaps embracing meat free Mondays - because it shows just how easy a vegetarian meal can be.
Roasted veg and hummus salad bowls
Perhaps the easiest of these ‘recipes’, this just requires you to serve a large portion of roasted vegetables alongside a simple salad and a few dollops of hummus.
To add texture, you can sprinkle over a few seeds or chopped nuts.
If you want a heartier meal, serve this alongside grilled chicken breast or some good quality wholemeal bread.
Simple vegan pasta
Boil 50-80g wholemeal pasta per person in boiling salted water until al dente. While it cooks, heat the vegetables over a medium heat with a splash of olive oil and a few cracks of black pepper.
Season if needed, then stir through the pasta and serve, sprinkling over a little fresh basil and some lemon juice if you have it to hand.
We often add a few handfuls of halved cherry tomatoes to the vegetables as they cook. It adds a saucy element that goes beautifully with pasta.
TIP: If you’re feeding fussy eaters, you could instead make a ‘hidden veg’ tomato sauce.
Blend the vegetables with tinned chopped or plum tomatoes, a pinch of salt, a pinch pf sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Whizz until nearly smooth, adding water if you need to loosen the mixture.
Then simply heat through in a pan and pour liberally over cooked pasta. We’re yet to find someone who can turn down a plate of pasta and red sauce.
Hopefully these ideas will not only help you towards some tasty weeknight meals but also inspire you to get more creative in the kitchen, making the most of your leftovers and eating more vegetables in the process.
Maybe you’d rather use your leftovers to whip up a curry or a stir fry. Perhaps they’ll replace salad as a side dish for your regular weeknight meals. You could even whip up a bowl of veg-heavy egg fried rice.
Once you’ve done the roasting, the hard part is over and the choice is yours.