It seems as though over the past few years roasted vegetable have been co-opted by Martha Stewart and the like (in honesty the following recipe is hers). I have been living in rural areas my entire life and I am here to tell you that the comfort and charm of a shallow baking dish full of roasted root crops, spuds and onions is as old as dirt. There is nothing better for the chill associated with this change of seasons, especially one as dramatic as this year's, than a good stew or a roast surrounded by carrots and onions and the like. I recommend roasting anything and everything. Though I favor the more traditional combination of onions and potatoes with fennel and garlic, I have also roasted all manner of root crop and winter vegetable including parsnips, rutabaga and beets. I often will add a generous handful of thinly sliced kale to round out the dish.
I want to touch on a few constants when it comes to roasting vegetables.
Think ahead: Cut vegetables so they will finish at about the same time. That is to say make spuds and squash about the same size, beets slightly larger as they will cook faster, same with carrots and onions.
Balance: Don't use too many wacky vegetables without a balance of the more standard fare.
Salt and pepper: I grind equal portions of rock salt and peppercorns with about half the amount of garlic powder in a coffee grinder and keep it in a jar.
A size extra large stainless bowl: I have a beat up stainless bowl that is huge. When I roast vegetable I cut them all and toss them into the bowl as I go. When the smoke clears I salt and pepper them to taste by tossing them dry with the salt and pepper concoction mentioned above. If you try this after the oil it will not be very even. Then drench them with a good quality olive oil and toss them by flipping them up and around in the bowl and jiggling etcetera until they are all equally oily.
Butter the baking dish: Yeah I know; BUTTER? Trust me it is better. Just grab a napkin (or not) and grab a few fingers full of butter and smear it in a thick layer on the inside of a large pyrex baking dish. When you have tossed the vegetables you can then pour them into the baking dish.
Preheat: The oven to just under 400 degrees. 400 degrees scares me but 380 does not.
Cover then uncover: The vegetables will cook faster and stay moister if covered for the first 40 minutes or more, but always finish them for at least twenty without a cover as this will give them the almost crisp finish that lets you know they were roasted.
Budget some real cook time: If you plan on an hour and fifteen minutes you will not be disappointed when it takes an hour and ten.
Keep vigil over the oven: Test the vegetables at about 40 minutes. When they are easily pierced with a fork they are done.