Recipe: Oven-roasted Vegetables

My roasted vegetable recipe is amazing. Olive oil, fresh fall vegetables, rosemary and spicy pepper flakes cooked at high heat means crispy, caramelized outsides and soft, smooth insides. It means whole garlic cloves melting in your mouth. It’s one of our favourite fall/winter dishes, and we usually make our first batch as soon as it’s cool enough to leave the oven on.

Brussels sprouts and onion for roasted vegetables

I penned this recipe into our Week 2 October Unprocessed menu without double-checking the ingredients. This dish is so simple – of course it’s natural! Right?

I didn’t think about the ingredients in the spice blend I like so much my family calls it “Jill Spice” until my hand was poised over the pan of vegetables Mike had carefully sliced. To my horror (yes, horror) its ingredients list revealed two ingredients that are OFF my eating list for October:

  • Sugar
  • “Spice extractives”

Label of Clubhouse brand's "Spicy Pepper Medley" spice mix

Now I know spice companies must keep secrets to avoid being put out of business, but spice “extractives” sounds to me like spices on steroids; artificially pumped-up flavour blends that assault and hyper-stimulate your taste buds so you keep coming back for more (this industry site, for example, lists oleoresins and essential oils as two forms of extractives.)

Artificial flavours are obviously a no-no for all-natural eating. But I never thought much about added natural flavours until recently; the Eating Rules blog sums up the problem with natural flavours succinctly:

Ultimately, the difference between the “natural” and “artificial” designation is related only to the original source(s) of the chemicals.  The end product is always a man-made compound.  (from the post Day 28: Natural & Artificial Flavors)

So instead of using the spice blend, I did what I’ve been doing a lot of this week, and improvised. The result was still good (so good I didn’t take photos before eating…whoops) but it wasn’t as good as it normally is. Clearly my seasoning skills aren’t what I thought they were. Take my spice selections with a grain of salt (add plenty of that, too) and experiment with whatever tickles your fancy. Just be generous, whatever you use.

We usually eat these veggies on a big pile of cooked quinoa or brown rice; sometimes with marinated tofu on the side.

Pan of vegetables with rosemary spice

Oven-Roasted Vegetables Recipe*

*Really more of a guideline. Choose, chop, and toss in whatever vegetables you have around. Fill the pan.

  • Makes 4-6 servings
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 60 minutes


  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 white potato or handful of new potatoes
  • 1/4 head cabbage (red or green) or 6-10 Brussels sprouts
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 head broccoli
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • Up to a whole head of garlic, separated into cloves
  • 1 clove elephant garlic (technically part of the onion family, so no worries about garlic overload)
  • Generous amount of good quality cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (probably 1/4 – 1/2 cup altogether)
  • Spices and seasonings: a large sprig fresh rosemary, generous amounts of salt and pepper plus whatever other spices you fancy (I added some paprika and coriander)


  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Wash and scrub all vegetables.
  3. Peel the sweet potato and onion (optionally peel the potato and carrot, removing any blemishes).
  4. Cut all vegetables into a large dice or slice uniformly using a mandolin. Remove stems from Brussels sprouts and halve. Peel the garlic cloves and leave whole.
  5. Coat the bottom of a large baking pan (at least 9×13) with about 1/4 of the olive oil and add about half the vegetables. Stir well and top with salt, pepper, and spices. Drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Add the rest of the vegetables and drizzle the rest of the olive oil over top. Add more spices, salt, and pepper.
  7. Stir, ensuring all veggies are sporting an olive oil sheen.
  8. Roast vegetables for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning.
  9. Taste often and add seasoning to taste.

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