Try to avoid roasting in a vessel with very high sides, which prevent hot air from circulating around the food you’re cooking. My favourite vessel for roasting is an ovenproof sauté pan or a cast-iron frying pan.
I’m starting with roasted vegetables because they’re so delicious and because my sense is we don’t roast them often enough. Also, when they’re roasted, they become a bigger aspect of the meal because of the increased complexity of the flavours. Boiled cauliflower is fine, but you need a decent sauce, in my opinion, or a garnish to make it interesting. Roasted cauliflower can almost be the centerpiece of a meal the way a beef or pork roast would be.
The flavours developed in vegetables cooked at high heat are so distinct from the flavour of the same vegetables boiled that they almost ought to have different names. Roasted asparagus spears are more complex in flavour than boiled asparagus. Roasted brussels sprouts are a dream, roasted broccoli a revelation.
The only vegetables not suitable for roasting are leafy vegetables. You wouldn’t roast spinach, as it would dry out, and you wouldn’t roast kale, because it would never become tender (though you can bake this green into wholesome “chips”). All other vegetables are suitable for roasting—green and root vegetables alike. Because vegetables are almost entirely water, some care must be taken to prevent them from drying out. I like to coat most vegetables in a little oil before putting them in a hot oven. The oil also helps deliver the heat evenly over their surface. And when you’re roasting, pay attention to the moisture level. Some vegetables that you might prefer crispy, such as broccoli, and others, such as root vegetables, are best when their exterior is nicely browned but their interior is moist.
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Excerpted from Ruhlman's Twenty Copyright © 2011 by Michael Ruhlman. Photography Copyright © 2011 by Donna Turner Ruhlman. Excerpted by permission of Raincoast Books. All rights reserved.