Cooking Guide for Vegetables

Add more plants to your meals with this nifty guide to the basics of cooking, tasting, testing and enjoying a range of different veggies. Including times and temperatures as well as cooking styles and pairing suggestions, it’s an invaluable kitchen companion that’s bound to inform and inspire your inner chef.

ARTICHOKE

ROAST

Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Temperature: 200°C

Notes: Artichoke is a funny one! Always chop to the top point, around a quarter of the way down. Place stemside down on a baking tray, and then drizzle over some olive oil and a pinch of salt. It’s cooked when completely soft and lightly golden brown.

Pair with: salmon and salad

STEAM

Time: 25 – 30 minutes

Notes: Always chop to the top point, around a quarter of the way down. A steamed artichoke is cooked when you can easily insert a knife through the middle.

Pair with: a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper

ASPARAGUS

ROAST

Time: 12 – 15 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Always trim the woody end of the stem as it can be hard and unappealing. The thinner the asparagus, the more tender when cooked. It’s cooked when soft and lightly golden brown.

Pair with: steak and mash

STEAM

Time: 7 – 10 minutes

Notes: Always trim the woody end of the stem as it can be hard and unappealing. Steamed asparagus is cooked when it’s tender, but be careful not to overcook it!

Pair with: toast and smashed avocado

BEETROOT

ROAST

Time: 30 – 40 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Beets are fabulous in the oven. Try not to roast them whole, as this will take ages. Opt for thin slices or small wedges. Ensure that they are fully cooked by poking a fork into the middle. If it slides through with ease, they’re ready!

Pair with: roasted sweet potato

STEAM

Time: 30 minutes

Notes: Cut the beetroot into small wedges so it cooks evenly. Ensure that they’re fully cooked by poking a fork into the middle. If it slides through with ease, they’re ready!

Pair with: a squeeze of lemon

BOK CHOY

ROAST

Time: 5 – 10 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Bok choy is a super watery vegetable, so it doesn’t need to roast for long as it will wilt too much. Cut in half lengthways before roasting.

Pair with: a splash of soy sauce

STEAM

Time: 4 – 6 minutes

Notes: Bok choy can hold lots of water, so don’t overcook it. It may become waterlogged if left in the steamer for too long. Cut in half lengthways before steaming.

Pair with: chilli, sesame seeds and a splash of soy sauce

BROCCOLI

ROAST

Time: 25 – 30 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Cut into florets. Broccoli can burn easily, so always keep an eye on it. Poke a fork into the florets to see if they’re cooked. If they’re soft and lightly browned, they’re ready!

Pair with: hummus

STEAM

Time: 3 – 5 minutes

Notes: It’s very easy to overcook broccoli. You want it tender with a little crunch. I recommend cutting it into big florets that can steam evenly over five minutes.

Pair with: a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

ROAST

Time: 25 – 30 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Cut the sprouts in half and coat in olive oil and a pinch of salt to make them extra tasty. If you like them a little more golden, leave in the oven a little while longer.

Pair with: parmesan cheese

STEAM

Time: 3 – 5 minutes

Notes: You always want a little crunch to your sprouts. Taste test them halfway through, as they’re easy to overcook and may become mushy.

Pair with: olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper

CABBAGE

ROAST

Time: 20 – 30 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Cut into 4 cm thick wedges and lie flat on baking paper. Coat in olive oil, salt and pepper.

Pair with: steak, carrots and mashed potato

STEAM

Time: 10 minutes

Notes: Cut into 4 cm thick wedges and place in the steamer. Taste a little while through, as they’re easy to overcook and can become mushy.

Pair with: salted butter and a little pepper

CAPSICUM

ROAST

Time: 20 - 30 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Cut into 3 cm thick strips and add olive oil, salt and pepper to bring out the flavour. You’ll know it’s done when it’s super soft.

Pair with: sundried tomato

STEAM

Time: 2 – 4 minutes

Notes: Cut into 3 cm thick strips and keep your eye on them as they will steam quickly.

Pair with: olive oil and garlic

CARROT

ROAST

Time: 25 – 35 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Roast whole carrots until soft on the inside and crunchy and golden brown on the outside.

Pair with: chicken and salad

STEAM

Time: 5 – 7 minutes

Notes: Carrots can be steamed whole. Don’t overcook as they can become mushy. You want them tender with a little crunch.

Pair with: any protein

CAULIFLOWER

ROAST

Time: 25 – 35 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Cut into florets. Poke a fork into the florets to make sure they’re cooked. If they’re soft and lightly browned, they’re ready!

Pair with: broccoli, carrot and mashed potato

STEAM

Time: 5 – 8 minutes

Notes: Cut into florets. Don’t overcook, as they can become mushy. You want them tender, with a little crunch.

Pair with: broccoli or any other steamed veg

CORN

ROAST

Time: 30 – 35 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Roast the corn on the cob. Turn the cob after 15 minutes so the corn roasts evenly.

Pair with: salted butter

STEAM

Time: 10 – 15 minutes

Notes: Corn can be steamed on or off the cob.

Pair with: chopped avocado, tomato, coriander, salt and pepper

EGGPLANT

ROAST

Time: 20 – 25 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Slice lengthways and crossways, into 1 cm thick pieces. Sprinkle with salt and squeeze out the excess water to remove the bitterness.

Pair with: assorted veggies

STEAM

NOT RECOMMENDED

GREEN BEANS

ROAST

Time: 10 – 15 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Cut the tips and tails of the beans before placing them in the oven. Once roasted, they’ll go super soft and golden brown.

Pair with: a pinch of salt, garlic and a squeeze of lemon

STEAM

Time: 5 minutes

Notes: Cut the tips and tails of the beans before placing them in the steamer. Be careful not to overcook, as they can lose their flavour.

Pair with: Coconut and chilli bean salad

KALE

ROAST

Time: 15 – 20 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Remove the central stem and rip the leaves into pieces the size of your palm. Add a sprinkle of salt and some chilli flakes for a hit of flavour. The kale is done when it’s semi-wilted or crunchy like chips.

Pair with: eggs on toast

STEAM

Time: 5 minutes

Notes: Remove the central stem and rip the leaves into pieces the size of your palm. Kale wilts quickly, so don’t let it overcook!

Pair with: steak and mash

MUSHROOMS

ROAST

Time: 15–20 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Mushrooms are technically a fungus, but for the purpose of this table, I’m going to say that they’re my favourite vegetable! Place your seasoning underneath the mushrooms so they can soak it in. They’re ready when they’re soft and get a nice colour on top.

Pair with: olive oil, chilli, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper

STEAM

NOT RECOMMENDED

ONION

ROAST

Time: 10 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Cut the onion into rings and sprinkle with salt before roasting – this brings out the flavour!

Pair with: a burger

STEAM

NOT RECOMMENDED

POTATO

ROAST

Time: 45 – 50 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Cut in half. If you’re short on time, steam for five to six minutes beforehand. Put a fork into the middle of one to test, and if it’s soft, you’ll know they’re ready!

Pair with: olive oil, vinegar, dried oregano, salt and pepper

STEAM

Time: 30 minutes

Notes: Cut in half and steam until super soft and light. Poke a fork through the middle, and if it slides through with ease, they’re ready!

Pair with: butter, chives, garlic, salt and pepper

PUMPKIN

ROAST

Time: 30 – 40 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Use a sharp knife to cut, as pumpkin can be super tough. If you’re using a whole pumpkin, cut it into quarters and then scoop out the seeds. Cut the quarters into 3 cm cubes.

Pair with: basil pesto and balsamic glaze

STEAM

Time: 7 – 8 minutes

Notes: Use a sharp knife to cut, as pumpkin can be super tough. If you’re using a whole pumpkin, cut it into quarters and then scoop out the seeds. Cut the quarters into 3 cm cubes.

Pair with: lemony fish

RADISH

ROAST

Time: 18 – 20 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Radish is a small, spicy vegetable. Roast it in half. Poke a fork through, and if slightly soft - it’s ready!

Pair with: a Thai-inspired salad

STEAM

Time: 10 minutes

Notes: Poke a fork through the radish to ensure that it’s well steamed. If slightly soft, it’s ready!

Pair with: olive oil and lemon

SWEET POTATO

ROAST

Time: 35 – 40 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: My favourite way to season sweet potato is with Moroccan spice – a little seasoning can go a long way! The skin is great for fibre, so keep it on but give it a thorough wash. Slice into 2 cm thick circles. Once soft and lightly browned, it’s ready!

Pair with: roasted beetroot

STEAM

Time: 7 – 10 minutes

Notes: Don’t over steam, as it will become mushy. The skin is great for fibre, so keep it on but give it a thorough wash. Slice into 2 cm thick circles. Once soft, it’s ready!

Pair with: garlic, chives, salt and pepper

ZUCCHINI

ROAST

Time: 15 – 20 minutes

Temperature: 180°C

Notes: Slice into 2 cm thick pieces, either lengthways or crossways. Sprinkle with salt and squeeze out the excess water. If you leave it in for longer, it will go nice and golden brown.

Pair with: eggplant

STEAM

Time: 3 – 5 minutes

Notes: Slice into 2 cm thick pieces, either lengthways or crossways. Keep your eye on it, as it’s already super watery. Steam for just a couple of minutes if you like a little bit of crunch.

Pair with: olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leah Itsines is a cook, food blogger and author of The Nourishing Cook: A Guide to Inspire Healthy & Creative Cooking (Macmillan Australia, 2018)