Convection ovens are growing in popularity, but that doesn't mean some home cooks aren't still a little daunted by them. If you're new to using a convection oven, roasted vegetables are a great recipe to start with because they are simple and adaptable.
What Is a Convection Oven?
Convection ovens look like a conventional oven on the outside, but they function a little differently in a way that makes them more efficient. As Maytag, one of many manufacturers of convection ovens, explains, a convection oven is built with a fan that circulates the hot air inside.
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With a conventional oven, dishes or baking sheets closest to the heating element (usually at the bottom of the oven) will cook the fastest while items on the top rack might cook more slowly. The U.S. Department of Energy even points out that convection ovens tend to be environmentally friendly options that use about 20 percent less energy.
Although it's great that convection ovens can cook food more evenly with less rotation of your dishes and baking sheets, their efficiency means that the oven doesn't need to be set quite as hot and stuff doesn't need to stay in them quite as long. This can be a problem because so many recipes are written for conventional ovens, not convection ovens.
Maytag recommends lowering the recipe's listed temperature by about 25 degrees when you're trying to translate a recipe from a conventional oven to a convection oven.
Making Perfect Roasted Vegetables
If you're using your convection oven for roasted vegetables, don't stress about trying to reconfigure temperatures and cook times. That's because the secret to perfect roasted vegetables is keeping a close eye on them.
As the Minneapolis Health Care System explains, you don't really need a recipe for perfect roasted vegetables. Although the Minneapolis Health Care System recommends 425 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures and times vary based on what you're cooking.
That's because softer vegetables cook faster than harder ones, as will chunks of vegetables that are cut smaller. Check your vegetables every 15 minutes until they are tender and browning on the edges — there's nothing quite as good as crispy roasted vegetables.
However, there are often directions for a convection oven in roasted vegetables recipes, as seen in a recipe from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture for roasted sweet potato salad. This recipe, which uses peppers, sweet potatoes and onions, specifies setting your convection oven to 425 degrees and cooking the vegetables for 25 to 30 minutes.
A recipe from USDA Choose My Plate recommends heating a conventional oven to 450 degrees and baking your vegetables for 20 minutes, stirring, and continuing to cook for 10 more minutes. If you're using a convection oven and following Maytag's tip of lowering the temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, you would come out to 425 degrees — the same temperature the Minneapolis Health Care System recommends for crispy roasted vegetables.
Choosing the right combination for your perfect roasted vegetables is based upon your personal taste. Broccoli, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, beets and onions are all great. Olive oil, seasonings and herbs will complement their natural flavors.
When you use your convection oven for roasted vegetables, don't be afraid to experiment to find what works best. Whether you set your oven for 400 degrees or 425 degrees isn't as important as keeping an eye on the vegetables and gently poking them with a fork to make sure they're soft. This will ensure you have the tender, crispy roasted vegetables you are aiming for.