Autumn/Fall has to be one of my culinary favourite times of the year – the bumper harvest of squash, pumpkin, courgettes/zucchini, garlic, onions, roots, tomatoes, beets, aubergines/eggplant and abundance of herbs means I go into overdrive preparing what seems like truckloads of roasted vegetables at this time.
Many can be gleaned at little cost from supermarket stores and farmer’s markets; from the kitchen garden of your own or friends; and from gluts generously positioned at gates with a ‘help yourself’ sign from those who have too many to cook or preserve, especially allotment holders. We have many
in our locality who pile up their apples, pumpkins and giant marrows on the kerbside of their houses and plots for such a purpose.
Originally I would serve these with plain roasts and grills but over the years I have experimented with serving them in salads, with pasta, on pizza, in moussaka or lasagne, as a filling for omelettes and crustless quiches, in a curry, in a pitta or wrap, as a base for baked fish or just alone with a dusting or crumbling of cheese for a light meal. The possibilities seem almost endless and the variety equally so when you mix and match the vegetables selected; spices and herbs added; and seasonings altered to suit the mix chosen.
I have given a basic recipe below but there are no real hard and fast rules. I do however find it helps to cut the vegetables into sizes so that they cook at the same time rather than adding during cooking, which means cutting denser, longer cooking roots smaller than say more quick-cooking courgettes/zucchini, tomatoes and aubergine/eggplant. But it doesn’t matter too much – and the mix of very tender and squishy vegetables with crunchier morsels that have more ‘bite’, adds welcome interest I find.
So what to use them for? Well here’s my RULE THE ROAST! repetoire:
Use to top a pizza (use a wholemeal tortilla base if liked to keep it light)
Add to a salad with fresh leaves and avocado
Make a roasted vegetable curry to serve with rice or grains
Use as a base and accompaniment for simply cooked fish like halibut or salmon
Serve tossed with pasta like linguine
Add to spinach and mushrooms to make a fabulous lasagne filling
Use as a filling for a large or mini crustless quiches
Add turkey or quorn strips and use to stuff a wholemeal pitta
Use to fill an omelette (egg white only if liked) with cheesy spinach
Whizz into a smooth soup or keep chunky as preferred
Stuff it and have a wrap made with a ‘thin’ if liked
Or simply serve as they come from the oven with a drizzle of herby yogurt!
RULE THE ROAST VEGETABLES
Here’s my very basic roasted vegetable recipe using squash or pumpkin, peppers/capsicums, courgette/zucchini, onions, garlic and herbs but you can add or subtract from this. I like to serve it topped with halloumi cheese and pine nuts so they are included too. If you want to keep it basic (without the cheese and nuts) then stop at stage 3 but roast for a generous 1 hour.
1 medium butternut squash or marrow/zucchini squash
2 red Romano peppers/capsicums or other colour standard peppers/capsicums
2 red onions
1 courgette/zucchini, thickly sliced (optional)
low-fat olive oil cooking spray or mist
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
250g/9 oz pack Halloumi cheese, cut or torn into chunks
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
fresh basil leaves to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6.
- Peel the squash or marrow/zucchini squash, cut in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into chunks and place in a large non-stick roasting pan.
- Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and stalks and cut into chunky pieces. Add to the roasting pan. Halve the onions then cut into small wedges and add to the pan to the courgette/zuccchini if used. Spray liberally with low-fat cooking spray, add the garlic if used and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until slightly charred around the edges.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar and scatter the cheese over the top. Roast for a further 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden.
- Scatter the pine nuts and some fresh basil leaves over the top and serve while piping hot.
WLS PORTION: ½
V suitable for Vegetarians
Calories per portion: 290
Image courtesy of Waitrose