The joys of roasting vegetables: Roasted Pumpkin and Pepitas

Photo courtesy Half Your Plate

There’s something about roasted vegetables that can convert even haters of certain vegetables into vegetable lovers. I have seen it happen repeatedly in my own family. I’ve had family members turn their noses up when offered options like asparagus and Brussels sprouts and seen them become fans. The latest happened when my husband asked for a second serving of roasted butternut squash.

It was quite monumental.

Truth be told, years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to boil vegetables until they were mush. I grew up eating incredibly mushy Brussels sprouts, which I hated, but I did eat as my mother wouldn’t let me leave the table until my plate was clean.

Now it’s not only that vegetable preparation methods have changed but also how we handle kids’ food habits. In my home growing up, I learned to clean my plate. I have a memory of sitting at the table at lunchtime and not liking something on my plate, likely spinach or Brussels sprouts. So I sat and sat at the table, being very stubborn, until my sisters came home from school in the afternoon. So it must have meant that I was either too young to go to school or I only went for half days. But needless to say, after that I was a good little girl and I cleaned my plate.

It took me a very long time, after that, to unlearn that habit. I can’t blame my mother as that was the prevailing thinking when it came to how kids were fed.

But back to roasting vegetables. When I first started making Brussels sprouts, I too used to cook them to a very mushy state. Needless to say, they weren’t very popular. But as my cooking skills improved, so did my family’s acceptance of various vegetables.

Roasting Perks
It seemed to go hand in hand with my using roasting as the preparation method of choice.

Roasting vegetables, at high temperatures of around 400 °F to 425 °F, allows for the sugars in the vegetables to caramelize and yield a wonderful flavor. It also saves them from becoming mushy as they might when they are cooked in water. But again if you roast them for too long, the results won’t be pleasing.

And besides the taste perks, there are nutritional advantages as well. Tossing the vegetables in a small amount of oil prior to roasting them, increases the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, such as beta carotene, lutein and lycopene. As well, the water soluble nutrients are not thrown down the drain with the water. (But when you do cook vegetables in water, save it to use in a soup.)

Here’s a recipe, adapted from Half Your Plate. If you have not visited this website before, be sure to do so. There is a wealth of information, including recipes and also lots of tips, such as how to save on your produce purchases. Want to know about the nutritional value, storage and preparation of all kinds of products? Check out the website.

While the recipe calls for pumpkin, it works well with all kinds of vegetables including a variety of winter squash.

Roasted Pumpkin and Pepitas

Makes 6 servings

1 medium sugar pumpkin peeled and large diced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 fresh thyme sprigs (stems removed more to garnish, if desired)
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) that have been shelled and salted


Preheat oven to 450 ° F. Place pumpkin on a rimmed baking tray, in a single layer, do not overlap. If need be, use two trays.

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and the thyme leaves. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Do not turn. Carefully transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with pepitas and thyme sprigs, if desired. Serve immediately.


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Categories: Recipes, Tips and Tricks

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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2 Comments on “The joys of roasting vegetables: Roasted Pumpkin and Pepitas”

  1. January 24, 2023 at 10:51 am #

    Yummm! 😋

    I have found out that parboiling vegetables or steaming for a short time prior to roasting enhances their texture. Also, if I haven’t salted the leftover vegetable cooking water, I use it to water houseplants after it has cooled. If salted, it’s used in place of store-bought broth.

    • January 26, 2023 at 1:52 pm #

      Thanks for your suggestions, Jean! That’s interesting about the parboiling and the texture. I’ll have to try it. And those are great ideas for the leftover cooking water. I’m sure my plants would appreciate it!

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