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As the weather gets cooler, we are more willing to turn on the oven and that means getting to enjoy more roasted vegetable dishes. Roasting vegetables is as easy as cutting up the veggies, tossing them in some oil and seasoning, sliding the tray in the oven and walking away. Roasted vegetables are amazing – brown and crisp on the outside, tender and sweet on the inside. The natural sugars in vegetables caramelize in the oven, concentrating their flavors into an intense experience. Of course, you can enjoy roasted veggies all by themselves; a dish of assorted roasted vegetables is an incredible meal. But why stop there? You can use roasted vegetables as the starting point on the way to another incredible dish. This fall season, check out this Ultimate Guide to Roasting Vegetables and then try some of these delicious dish that all start with roasted vegetables.

1. Start With Roasted Cauliflower

One of my favorite vegetables to roast is cauliflower. I just toss pieces in olive oil with salt, pepper, garlic and turmeric. The florets become golden brown, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. One day I made roasted cauliflower and then took it another step further and made them into Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. It became the most popular recipe on my blog. Toss the cauliflower florets in a bit of oil and season them with garlic, salt and pepper. Roast them in a 450 degree oven for 35 minutes until they are browned, firm and even a little blackened. Melt 2 Tbs. vegan butter into ¾ cup of hot sauce, and toss the cauliflower in the Buffalo sauce to coat. Arrange the florets on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put them back in the oven for 10 minutes to “seal” the hot sauce onto the cauliflower. Serve with carrots, celery and your favorite dipping sauce like this Low Fat Tofu Ranch Dip. Try Simple Roasted Cauliflower with Chipotle and Lime for another way to spice it up.

2. Start With Roasted Eggplant and Roasted Garlic

I love roasted eggplant! I love roasted garlic! These two loves get together to make this delicious spread called Baba Ganoush. The taste is rich and decadent. And the name is fun to say.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 large eggplants in half lengthwise and place cut side down on a lightly oiled, foil-lined baking sheet. Roast the garlic by placing 4 cloves on a small piece of foil and drizzle 1 tsp. of olive oil on them. Wrap the cloves in the foil and place on the baking sheet with the eggplants. Bake the eggplants until they are soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. You should be able to pierce them with a fork. Let the eggplants and the garlic cloves cool. Scoop out the centers of the eggplants into a food processor. Squeeze the garlic cloves to release the garlic from their skins and add to the eggplant. Add ¼ cup tahini, 1 tsp. ground cumin, the juice of one lemon, 1 tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp. cayenne powder and 2 Tbs. of olive oil to the food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are well-combined. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired. Transfer to a bowl and mix in 1 Tbs. of fresh chopped parsley. Serve with toasted bread or pita chips. Baba Ganoush!

For more eggplant dips and spreads, try this Indian Baigan Bharta or Char Roasted Eggplant Dip or Spicy Eggplant Caponata.

3. Start With Roasted Eggplant, Roasted Tomatoes and Roasted Garlic

One of the best soups I have ever made is an Italian Roasted Eggplant Bisque. It is creamy, velvety and rich. To make it, toss a large eggplant cut into halves along with 2 halved tomatoes and half a dozen garlic cloves in some oil and roast them in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes. Make sure to check on the garlic cloves periodically so they don’t burn. While the veggies are roasting, saute one large chopped onion in a large soup pot until softened and lightly browned. Scoop the eggplant flesh out of the skin and add it to the pot. Next, add the tomatoes to the pot. Finally, squeeze the garlic out from their skins and add them to the pot. Season with 1 tsp. each of thyme, cumin, oregano and basil and a pinch of red pepper flakes and toss to combine. Add 4 cups vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then let simmer for an hour. Blend the soup with an immersion blender, add ¼ cup non-dairy milk or cream, and bring it back to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with vegan grated parmesan, fresh basil and diced tomatoes. Trust me, this soup is amazing.

4. Start With Roasted Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic

This is a pasta dish that is as beautiful as it is delicious. Hearty penne is tossed with sweet roasted garlic, creamy roasted butternut squash, crispy kale and salty hazelnuts and then baked with extra cheese on top.

Peel, seed and cut a butternut squash into cubes. Cut the top off a head of garlic. Toss the squash and garlic with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until the squash and the garlic is softened and browned. Set aside until ready to use. Cook one pound of penne in salted, boiling water until shy of al dente. Reserve ½ cup of starchy cooking water before draining the pasta. While the penne is cooking, heat 2 Tbs. vegan butter and 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add 1 minced shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add 1 Tbs. fresh chopped sage, a pinch of nutmeg and 2 Tbs. nutritional yeast or vegan grated parmesan to the pan and stir. Squeeze the garlic out of their skins and add that and the butternut squash to the pan. Toss to coat them with the butter and spices. Drain the pasta and add it to the squash and garlic mix. Add the reserved pasta water and toss the penne for a few minutes, over low heat, to make sure it gets well-coated and that the liquid thickens into a sauce. Wilt in a large bunch of chopped kale. Mix in ½ cup vegan mozzarella shreds. Transfer the pasta to a large casserole dish. Top with another ½ cup vegan mozzarella shreds and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts. Garnish with ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts.

For other roasted squash dishes, try this Roasted Butternut Squash in Yellow Coconut Curry Sauce or Creamy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

6. Start With Roasted Pumpkin

Sure, you can buy pumpkin puree, but it’s really easy to make your own. I roast my own pumpkins to make homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi in Spiced Butter Sauce. Take a 2-3 lbs. pumpkin and using a large chef’s knife, place it on one side of the stem and cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and strings with a spoon. Rinse the seeds, getting all the strings off them and set them aside to make roasted pumpkin seeds. Place the pumpkin halves in a baking dish, cut side down. Add ½ cup water to the baking dish. Roast the pumpkin halves for 1 hour or until the pumpkin is fork-tender. Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, peel away the skin from the pumpkin flesh. It should come off easily in big pieces. Discard the skin. Place the pumpkin flesh in a food processor or blender and process until it is a smooth puree.

In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbs. ground flaxseed with 1/3 cup warm water to make a binder. Let it sit and thicken for about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups roasted pumpkin puree, 2 ½ cups flour, ¼ cup potato starch, ¼ cup nutritional yeast and 1 tsp. salt. Mix until it forms a dough. It should stick to your fingers but not to the bowl. Dust flour on a smooth surface. Divide the dough into sections and roll each section into balls. Then roll each ball into a long tube, about ¼-inch in diameter. Press the tines of a fork into the tube to form indentations in the dough. Cut the tubes into gnocchi pieces.

Gently place the gnocchi into a large pot of salted, boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes. They will float to the top when done. Remove from the water and drain. Cook the gnocchi in batches, about 8 at a time. In a large saucepan, melt 1/3 cup vegan butter and 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil. Add ¼ tsp. nutmeg, ¼ tsp. allspice and kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Add the gnocchi to the pan and coat with the butter sauce. Serve while hot. Top with vegan grated parmesan, if desired.

Use your homemade gnocchi to make Gnocchi ala Genovese or Gnocchi in Almond Cream Sauce.

7. Start With Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips and Pearl Onions

On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, it is traditional to eat sweet dishes. Tzimmes is a traditional sweet stew made with root vegetables and dried fruits. The veggies get cut into round coins to symbolize the wish for prosperity in the New Year.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss 2 large sweet potatoes, 6 large carrots, and 4 large parsnips that have been peeled and cut into coin or chunks with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the veggies, along with ½ lb. of pearl onions, in a single layer on the baking sheets. Roast for 25-30 minutes until the veggies are browned and tender, turning the pans around halfway through. While the veggies are roasting, make the sauce. Combine 1 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup agave nectar, vegan honey or maple syrup, 1/3 cup chopped prunes, 1/3 cup raisins and 1/3 cup dried cranberries in a small saucepan. Add 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg and ¼ tsp. ground allspice and heat the sauce over medium-high heat until it comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat. When the vegetables are done roasting, transfer them to a large skillet. Add the sauce and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir the veggies often. A glaze will form over the veggies. Taste for any seasoning adjustments.

It is possible to make all of these dishes without first roasting the vegetables but that would take away an entire layer of flavor. The next time you plan to make a dish using vegetables, consider roasting them first for the deepest, sweetest taste. Start with a roasted vegetable and go on to incredible autumn dishes.

Lead Image Source: Simple Roasted Cauliflower With Chipotle and Lime

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