Healthy holidays: Roasted vegetables

At Christmas, in our house at least, roasted potatoes have always been obligatory, along with parsnips and even the occasional carrot. More recently I've discovered that almost all vegetables are good to roast. The key to success is threefold: fi...

Roasted spiced butternut or hokkaido squash with raw spinach and goat’s cheese with apple dressing. Credit: Copyright 2015 Sue Style


At Christmas, in our house at least, roasted potatoes have always been obligatory, along with parsnips and even the occasional carrot.

More recently I've discovered that almost all vegetables are good to roast. The key to success is threefold: first, don't crowd the roasting pan. Second, roast vegetables in a very hot oven, and if you have the option to combine broiler and oven heat, even better. Third, try prepping the vegetables the night before and leaving them out on the counter, loosely covered with paper towels to blot up excess moisture. All these steps combined will give you perfectly golden, toasty vegetables, packed with flavor and goodness. Try these recipe ideas for your holiday feast.

Roasted Spiced Butternut or Hokkaido Squash With Raw Spinach and Goat's Cheese With Apple Dressing

For this lovely golden-green, sweet-sour dish, inspired by a recipe from the restaurant Honey & Co. in London, you need a firm squash like butternut or Hokkaido (or potimarron, to use its French name), not a soft pumpkin of the jack-o'-lantern variety, which collapses in a fluff on roasting.


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


For the vegetables:

2 pounds butternut or Hokkaido squash

Salt and pepper to taste


½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon fennel seed

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon coriander

½ teaspoon cumin seed

2 pinches of crushed chilies

2 tablespoons oil


Zest of half an orange

Juice of 1 orange

4 ounces baby spinach leaves

1 small radicchio (or curly endive)

4 ounces small soft fresh goat's cheeses, halved

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons cider vinegar or wine vinegar


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 small apple, unpeeled, finely diced


Heat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with nonstick baking parchment.

Scrub the butternut or squash (no need to peel), cut in half-inch slices and again in half if large. Place on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.

Mix together all the ground spices with the crushed chilies and sprinkle them over the vegetables.

Mix together the oil and orange juice, brush the slices lavishly with it and scatter the orange zest over the vegetables.


Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown, crisp and tender when pierced.

Meanwhile, wash and spin the spinach leaves and radicchio or curly endive and tear them in smallish pieces.

When the butternut or squash is tender, remove from the oven and arrange around the edge of a large serving dish or bowl with the salad leaves.

Place the lemon juice, vinegar, oil and honey in a frying pan and cook hard to reduce by half. Pour the hot dressing over the salad and mix it up a little.

Arrange diced apple and halved goat's cheese on top and serve.

Roasted Zucchini and Eggplant With Walnut Sauce

The warm roasted vegetables are paired here with cool walnut sauce (a cross between a Mexican nogada and a Middle Eastern tarator sauce). The same sauce is great stirred into thin strands of pasta or served as a dip with sticks of raw carrot, celery and radishes.

Prep time: 15 minutes


Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


1 thick slice of country-style bread, about 2 ounces, crusts removed

A little milk

4 tablespoons freshly shelled walnut meats

Juice of half a lemon

4 ounces fromage blanc or curd cheese

6 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 zucchini

2 eggplants

Olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped


Place the bread in a dish, add milk to cover and leave to soak up the milk. Once the bread is soft, squeeze it out well (reserve the milk) and place in a blender with the walnuts, lemon juice, fromage blanc, olive oil and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, scraping down and re-blending to make sure all is incorporated. If the blades are having a job turning, add a little of the reserved milk.

Tip the sauce into a bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Refrigerate until needed.

Top and tail the zucchini and eggplants and slice thickly lengthwise or cut in chunky batons about the size of your little finger. Place them, nicely spaced out, on a baking tray lined with nonstick paper, sprinkle with olive oil, chopped garlic and salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 425 F and roast vegetables until a little browned at the edges -- about 30 minutes. Stir them up once or twice to ensure they roast evenly.

Serve the warm vegetables with the cool walnut sauce.

Crisp-roasted Kale With Pumpkin Seeds or Pine Nuts

Kale is definitely having a moment: It's all over the place, juiced, steamed, boiled or in salads. Here's another idea: Chop it very fine, sprinkle with sea salt and sesame oil and roast it to a crisp in a hot oven. The result is not at all cabbagey (kale, like cabbage, belongs to the brassica family) but delightfully crunchy – a bit like those flash-fried basil leaves or parsley used as a garnish. Lovely just to snack on, or with fish or chicken, sprinkled over soup or pasta or withbacon and soft-cooked eggs for a light lunch or supper.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 servings


10 ounces kale (mix green and purple if you like)

A sprinkling of sea salt

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts or pumpkin seeds


Heat oven to 400 F.

Shred the kale finely, spread it out on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, sprinkle with sea salt and sesame oil and mix in the pine nuts or pumpkin seeds.

Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the kale is lightly toasty and crisp and the pine nuts/pumpkin seeds are golden -- mix it up halfway through to make sure it toasts evenly.

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