Roast Veggie Magic

As a nerd, I really like to delve into what is happening when we cook. Though we generally don't take the time to think beyond the result to our palate, I continue to be marveled by the complexity of scientific processes that make our foods taste fabulous. Yep, cooks have been the earliest scientists, experimenting with techniques to enhance, process and preserve food for millenia. Imagine the first caveperson mistakenly throwing a piece of raw meat into the fire, fishing it out, then with a grumbling stomach, taking a reluctant bite. As others may have looked on in horror, this first gourmand realizes that there is more to fire than keeping warm - food tastes even better! Grawwrr! 

Today, I am going caveman all over the vegetables I need to use up in my refrigerator. There is nothing more divine, in my opinion, than roasted vegetables. Through the magic of chemical and physical reactions, I am going to turn this:

To this:

And, finally, this:

The simplicity of preparing roast vegetable pasta makes it a great dish for any budding science-cook. The preparation involves cleaning, peeling and chopping your vegetables of choice. In my case, I really wanted to use up some carrots, peppers, tomato, celery, garlic and onion. My hypothesis was that once roasted in olive oil for 45 minutes, the result will be delicious. 

I was correct, and here's why. The first reaction was physical, involving heating the vegetables at a high temperature (475F). The high cooking temperature causes the sugars in the vegetables to melt. In order for sugars to do this, the heat must reach at least 338F. If you try to roast vegetables at a temperature lower than this, you'll end up with a dry, tasteless mess. That's because once the sugar begins to melt, it starts to dehydrate and decompose. 

Now, I realize this does not sound appetizing, but this chemical reaction is what makes it worth waiting 45 minutes. As the water begins to evaporate, the sugar becomes brown and concentrates into a caramel flavour. The decomposition is critical here as well, since the sugar transforms from sucrose into glucose and fructose molecules. It's the glucose and fructose that develops the colour and flavour, or if you like, 'carmelization'.

It's important to note that there is a fine line between nicely caramelized and burnt. So, make sure to turn the vegetables while cooking, and keep an eye on the colour. Though I can eat just the vegetables on their own, you can add them to any number of dishes to make an outstanding meal. I've tossed them with spaghettini, fresh basil and parmesan, but you can experiment with a multitude of ideas and come out with a proven success.


  1. I'm starting to experiment with roasted vegetables as well. I like that you can roast a large pan full of veggies and use them for several days in a variety of recipes. They even can be blended and added to a soup base.

    Carry on Carrie !!


  2. I love your blog and have nominated you for an award. You're not obliged to accept but I do hope you will come by my blog and take a look :)

  3. We prepare roasted veggies a lot. It's easy and so tasty!
    My friend Lynn @
    introduced me to a new way to rast brussell sprouts. Pre-heat the oven to 450 and toss the brussell sprouts with equal parts EVOO, Maple Syrup and Basalmic Vinegar. YUM!

    Another blog you might like is:


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