Use Your Oven: Veg & Herbs

There are lots of ways to cook veggies, but I love how roasting them releases their true taste and sweetness. Plus, it’s too easy to *not do. With regular veggies – the kind you can get cut up in a bag, for instance – or carrot sticks, etc., you can just put them in a single layer on a lightly oiled, foil-lined tray and roast until they’re soft. Beets take a little bit more, but not much.

First, I wash them and trim off any green leaves. (Pro tip: Keep those leaves to put in the chicken soup you know you’re going to make when you have your autumn cold.) Then I lightly oil a foil-lined tray and place the beets. Loosely wrap them in the foil and put them in a 375-degree oven for 60-75 minutes, until you can easily push a fork through them. If you’re doing this with something else in the oven, that’s fine: Cook them longer at lower temps and less time at higher temps.

   Pro tip: use a baking tray with sides in case the beet juice leaks out. It will wash off your hands without staining, but I can’t say if that’s true for porous countertops or clothes. I just don’t risk it.

You’ll want to check them every 20-25 minutes or so to make sure they aren’t drying out or sticking to the foil, which can happen if you forego the oil spray (which is ok to do, just check them.) If they’re looking dry or sticking, add a little bit of water and fold up the foil again.

When they’re done, rub them with a paper towel to take off the outside skin layer. If it doesn’t come off easily just put the beets back in the oven for a bit. Your house will smell great and you can keep the beets for about a week in the fridge to use as needed in salads or even on their own. They’re so good, though, I don’t think they’ll still be around at the end of a week.

BONUS TIP: When you have fresh herbs that are going to go bad if you don’t use them or if you have an amazing plant that’s giving you more than you can possibly use at once, you can save yourself the $5 for a bottle of dried herbs from the store and just dry them at home. It’s the same idea as veggies: Place them on a foil-lined tray (no oil) in a single layer, and let them bake at a really low temperature (180-200 degrees) for a couple of hours. I only had a small amount  this time, so I used my toaster oven. When they’re dry, the leaves shrink. A lot:

dry basil
dry basil – this was a full tray of green leaves

When they’re very crunchy to the touch, wrap the foil around the basil and crush it, to make the leaves more like what you see in bottles from the store.

dry basil in foil
  crunch the dry basil                                        
Use the foil to pour the dry basil into a container
pour the dry basil into a container

Then shape the foil like a funnel and pour into a container. I like to re-fill the glass bottles I already have. It turns into a lot less than you’d think, so go ahead and dry out as much as you have.


Refilling a bottle of basil