• Seasonal Side Dishes- Roasting Winter Vegetables for Thanksgiving

    Posted on November 20, 2015 by in Blog

    by Dara Bloom


    Trying to figure out what to make for Thanksgiving, and thinking of ways to include some locally grown vegetables? How about roasting? It’s a quick, easy, and delicious way to prepare the types of vegetables that grow in the fall and winter, including root vegetables and cold weather crops.

    Root vegetables all grow under ground, for example, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips, beets, rutabagas, and daikon radishes. Cold weather crops include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and squash. All of these vegetables are delicious when they’re roasted, making a really hearty side dish that’s perfect for chilly days and can be a new Thanksgiving favorite.

    So what are some of these funny sounding vegetables, anyway?

    Turnip with its top on

    Turnip with top still on

    Turnips and rutabagas are related, and have a milder taste than radishes, though they still have that peppery kick and are similar in shape and texture. Daikon radishes are longer than the type of radish you may be used to, and are all white and a little less spicy. All of these vegetables can be scrubbed, peeled, chopped and roasted.

    Tip: When you buy vegetables like turnips and beets at the farmers’ markets, it’s like a buy one-get one free deal! Farmers’ markets typically sell these root vegetables with the tops still on, so you can cut off the greens and sauté them, use them in a salad, or in any recipe that calls for other greens, such as mustard greens or spinach.



    Parsnips look like white carrots, and have a similar flavor to carrots, although they’re not quite as sweet and have their own special tang. Brussel sprouts look like mini-cabbages, and can be roasted whole or cut in half.

    Tip: If you have a picky eater at home, try making a dipping sauce. Mix two tablespoons of low-fat mayonnaise with a teaspoon of paprika and a dash of soy sauce. Use as a dipping sauce with roasted brussel sprouts or other vegetables that need a little coaxing.

    Roasted Vegetable Recipe and Roasting Video

    roated veggies

    Below is a recipe from the Expanded for and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) about how to roast vegetables, and a link to a helpful video that demonstrates roasting techniques. Remember, the list of vegetables that you can roast is endless, so substitute whatever root or cold weather vegetable that you find at the farmers’ market or your local farm stand with the ones listed below. And if you’re ever in doubt about what a vegetable is, or how to cook it, ask your local farmer for advice!

    Note: When roasting, try to keep similar vegetables together, since cooking times will vary. For example, broccoli cooks faster than squash, and squash that is chopped into smaller pieces will cook faster than a whole squash. Use the recipe below to experiment with different seasoning options, and keep an eye on vegetables in the oven to make sure they brown, but don’t burn.

    Video: https://localfood.ces.ncsu.edu/local-food-nutrition-health/cooking-local-foods/roasting/

    Recipe: Roasted Vegetables (from ‘Cooking with EFNEP: Recipes for Eating Smart and Moving More’, p. 40)



    Choose 4 cups of one or more

    Herbs or Spices:

    Choose 2-3 teaspoons of one or more


    Choose 1 Tablespoon


    Red Potatoes

    Sweet Potatoes







    Acorn Squash




    Chili powder



    Garlic cloves

    Grill seasoning

    Curry powder

    Chinese 5 spice


    Italian seasoning





    Olive oil

    Canola oil

    Corn oil












    1. Select one or a combination of vegetables and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil, and 2-3 teaspoons of one or a combination of spices.
    1. Place on a nonstick cooking pan and roast at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes or 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. You may want to place foil on the pan for easier clean up.

    Nutrition Information per serving (Makes 4 servings):

    Nutrient content will vary greatly depending on vegetable choice and how much oil is used. Vegetables usually have between 15-25 calories per ½ cup. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes have 60-90 calories per ½ cup.

    Suggested combinations:

    • Sweet potatoes: 5 spice, cinnamon
    • Red potatoes: garlic, rosemary
    • Eggplant: garlic, Italian seasoning
    • Carrots: grill seasoning, parsley
    • Acorn squash: cinnamon, chili powder

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