There is an increasing movement toward using no added oils in food preparation. This has merits for potential health benefits. However, oil is important for the success of some cooking methods. Roasting vegetables usually falls in this category. Many people love their roasted veggies and are struggling to find a way to enjoy their beloved veggies yet with little or no added oil.
So in an effort to help, I decided to put this to the test. I ran a three-way test of roasted carrots: (1) Carrots were roasted in the usual manner with a coating of oil, (2) Carrots were roasted raw without any added oil, and (3) Carrots were steamed first before being roasted without any oil. It’s remarkable what that little bit of oil will do for roasted carrots! BUT…There IS an alternative. Check out the video below to see the results for yourself.
For your information, my test notes are below the video. I truly hope this helps you out.
Oil vs No Oil Roasted Carrots
Comparison Test Results
In this test, three carrots of similar size were used. Each carrot was peeled and the ends cut off. Then the carrots were cut into similar size pieces. Each carrot was also tasted to ensure they had similar flavors.
Preparation and Process
One carrot was steamed for 8 minutes, until not quite fork-tender, then roasted without oil. The second carrot was roasted raw with no treatment. The third carrot was roasted raw with a light coating of extra virgin olive oil (about ½ teaspoon of oil). No seasoning was used on any of the carrots. All three carrots were placed on separate pieces of parchment paper that was labeled with their treatments, and placed on the same room temperature aluminum baking sheet. The baking sheet was placed in a preheated 400F oven. The carrot pieces were rolled over half way through the roasting process. The results are as follows:
The raw and roasted with oil carrots were tender in 34 minutes and removed from the oven.
The roasted raw with no oil carrots were removed from the oven at 41 minutes.
The steamed and roasted with no oil carrots were removed from the oven at 41 minutes.
The raw and roasted with oil carrots had the usual appearance of vegetables roasted in this manner, a little “glistening” on the surface (from the oil) with some browning where they were in contact with the baking sheet, and a little wrinkling on the surface.
The roasted raw with no oil carrots appeared dry on the surface with some almost burned areas. The very small pieces looked undesirable with an almost rotten appearance (although they were far from rotten).
The steamed and roasted with no oil carrots appeared similar to those roasted raw with no oil, with a dry appearance on the surface and some surface browning. The browned areas did not looked charred as did some of the pieces that were roasted raw with no oil. However, the smaller pieces still looked appealing, with some browning on the outside (no rotten appearance).
The texture of the raw and roasted with oil carrots was what most people would expect with carrots roasted with a light coating with oil. The outside almost glistened from the remnants of the oil on the surface. They did show some caramelization on the browned areas and a little wrinkling as is usual with carrots roasted in this way.
The roasted raw with no oil carrots were dry and chewy on the outside and tender on the inside, although not as tender as those roasted raw with a coating of oil.
The steamed and roasted with no oil carrots were also dry and chewy on the outside, but not as much as those roasted raw with no oil. The texture was more desirable than those roasted raw with no oil. This batch was tender on the inside and more so than those roasted raw with no oil, but not as tender as those roasted raw with a coating of oil.
Since very little oil was used, the flavor of the carrots roasted raw with a light coating of oil and those steamed and roasted with no oil was very close, if not the same. All pieces had a nice carrot flavor with no burned or charred flavor. The small amount of oil used did not impart any oil flavor to the carrots.
The roasted raw with no oil carrots had a carrot flavor, but there was a slight hint of a charred aftertaste. This batch had the least desirable flavor of all the batches.
Roasting raw carrots with a light coating of oil gave the most desirable results in appearance, texture, and flavor. They also took the least time to roast to being fork-tender. There was no flavor imparted by the oil because a very light coating was used in the preparation process.
The carrots that were steamed first then roasted with no oil had a very acceptable appearance, with some wrinkling and browning, with very little charred look and no charred flavor. The texture was somewhat chewy on the outside while the desired tenderness on the inside was obtained (although they were not as “creamy” on the inside as those roasted with a light coating of oil). The flavor of this batch was good. Steaming carrots first to the point of being not quite fork-tender before roasting without oil, seems to be a good alternative to roasting carrots with a coating of oil.
Roasting raw carrots without a coating of oil produced the least desirable appearance, flavor and texture and does not seem to be a good alternative to roasting carrots with a coating of oil.