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Enhancing taste and adding colour
Dry roasting lends an appetising colour and a delicious flavour to nuts, croutons or vegetables. The cooking process requires no fat and is simple to do in the frying pan or the oven.
Dry roasting is particularly useful for adding a delicious flavour to nuts and a crunchy texture to croutons. The absence of any fat or liquid is specific to the dry roasting technique - this sets it apart from the popular cooking method called roasting. Dry roasting is usually done on a very high heat - sometimes up to 300°C. This is what gives the food a dark colour and an intense flavour. It is also through this process that a bitter substance develops which aids digestion. In addition to this, the liquid is removed, resulting in a crispy texture.
While grilling requires the use of a grill or a griddle pan and more often than not, extra fats and marinades play an important role, dry roasting, on the other hand, simply requires an oven or a frying pan. With both cooking methods however, it is important not to overcrowd the pan or baking tray. When dry roasting nuts for example, each nut should be touching the bottom of the pan or spread out on a baking sheet, rather than layered on top of each other, in order to ensure an even heat distribution.
Regardless of what type of nut or seed you are cooking, dry roasting is the perfect method for it. Pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds all release a special flavour when roasted. In addition to this, the body can better absorb the magnesium and calcium from roasted nuts rather than raw nuts. However, some of the unsaturated fats and the important vitamins may be lost during the process. It is therefore advised to eat a mix of raw and roasted nuts.
When dry roasting nuts in the pan, make sure to keep an eye on the temperature, and move them around the pan as much as possible. This way, the nuts will be evenly browned and will not burn. Dry roasting nuts in the oven is also an option. Hazelnuts for example, are particularly tasty when done in the oven. Simply remove their shell and spread them across the baking tray. The thin skin on the hazelnut loosens up when roasted, making it quite easy to then remove.
Dry roasting bread is in fact a very common procedure and normally takes place in a toaster machine. If making your own croutons, slice the bread into cubes and then dry roast them in the pan or the oven. The oven method ensures that a more even heat is applied and it makes it more difficult to burn the bread. The frying pan method on the other hand may encourage small black pieces to stick to the pan and burn. Soft white bread in particular requires a lot of attention.
Strictly speaking, dry roasting does not use any fat, but sometimes a bit of added fat may help transform cubes of bread into croutons. With just a few drops of oil the croutons will not only burn slower, but also add to the taste. Perhaps try adding some salt and herbs – you’ll find that, thanks to the oil, they will stick surprisingly well.
Roasting vegetables is a good way to intensify the flavour of vegetable soups. Peppers, pumpkin, carrots or sweet potatoes all taste even better when roasted. For this, a few drops of oil or a small bit of butter is required in order to avoid the vegetables burning and drying out. The oven is more practical for larger amounts than a frying pan. Peppers for example are best dry roasted in the oven – this gives them a better taste, and makes them easier to peel.
Vegetables with a high water content, like tomatoes, are not very well suited to dry roasting – because of their watery consistency, they gain practically no roasted flavour. For a better result and a tasty side dish, try stewing tomatoes in their own juices.
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