Roasting vegetables can be a great way to bring out the best flavors in almost any veggie. You can toss most vegetables — including potatoes, broccoli, carrots, artichokes and more — on a baking tray with a little olive oil, salt and other seasonings and pop them in the oven until they develop that toasty, hearty flavor.
But even a simple cooking technique such as roasting vegetables can have some challenges.
Previously, we’ve shared tips on dry roasting your veggies to make sure they don’t get soggy. But what if you want to keep a little bit of that olive oil in your favorite recipe, either for flavor or for health benefits? Turns out, there’s a simple ingredient that can boost the crispiness of roasted vegetables and most of us already have it in our pantry: cornstarch!
To achieve this crispy sensation with cornstarch, Lifehacker recommends seasoning the vegetables with oil, salt and spices, and then tossing them with about a tablespoon of cornstarch per pound of veggies to achieve a thin, even coating. Then, spread the vegetables on a baking sheet and roast as usual. It’s that simple.
Why does adding this basic ingredient help keep roasted veggies crispy? According to Lan Lam of “America’s Test Kitchen” and “Cook’s Illustrated,” it’s all in the fine texture of the cornstarch.
“Like those of potato starch, its particles are quite small, which is why we’ve had good luck in the past using it as a fry coating on everything from chicken wings to sweet potato wedges,” Lam wrote in “Cook’s Illustrated.” “Plus, its starch granules — much finer than those of potatoes — don’t hold on to much water and don’t hold on to it tightly, so it can easily form a crispy crust.”
Lam’s technique, which I have tried in my own kitchen, is a little different. She mixes cornstarch and water together and then puts it in the microwave to make something that looks like pudding.
So, before you roast your next pan of veggies, make sure to check your pantry for cornstarch to get that crispy texture — even in your healthier side dishes.