I love roast vegetables. About once a fortnight, I will do a huge roast vegetable fest – one enormous tray of potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and beetroot, cut into chunks and the potato and beetroot parboiled, and then roasted with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt. Another huge tray will have capsicums, halved or quartered roma tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and red onion, with oregano, black pepper, a bit of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Mostly, I chuck in some organic sausages to roast with this, but sometimes I’ll serve it with broccoli in cheese sauce, or with chickpeas or a cannelini bean puree, or even a roast chicken.
Since there are only two of us living here, this is far too many roast vegetables, and I invariably end up with a gigantic tray of leftovers. Life is so very hard…
Fortunately, leftover roast vegetables are a short cut to possibly my favourite lunch in the world – roast vegetable salad with chickpeas. Originally, I had a recipe for this, in which not only was I told how many of everything to roast, but exactly how much oil to use and how much to chop things up. These days, I just use whatever I have leftover from dinner.
The recipe is dead easy. Take any combination of roasted vegetables (though I do recommend a reasonably varied mix, and not too much potato, which is nicer hot in any case). Chop any larger chunks in two, and combine all of them in one of the dishes you roasted them in (why add to your washing up?). Drain a tin of chickpeas, and add to the vegetables. Mix them around a bit, and decide whether you want more chickpeas or whether that’s about right. Chop up a bunch or so of flat-leaf parsley and add to the veggies. If you are feeling posh, try to just chop the leaves and not the stems. I’m generally half posh, which is to say, I chop up the first couple of inches regardless, then start stripping the stems, cursing about how long this all takes. Crush a clove or two of garlic (to taste) and add to the veggies with the juice of a lemon and some good olive oil. A little salt and pepper may be needed, but if your roast vegetables are well-flavoured, you won’t need them.
Mix everything around in the tin, scraping the bottom to get all the crusty bits, and divide between as many lunchboxes as you see fit. Refrigerate overnight, but let it come to room temperature by lunchtime. Eat in front of your envious colleagues, who will probably remark on the garlic, but will still look longingly at your bowl.
Feel virtuous, because this has to count as at least two serves of vegetables, maybe more, and it’s low GI, because of all the chickpeas. That garlic, parsley and lemon juice is wonderfully fresh and good for you, and will scare off any cold germs that were considering colonising your body, too. It’s even vegan (and gluten-free, for that matter), not that you’ll notice, because it tastes very indulgent. Boy, are you good. (We won’t discuss the olive oil, which probably takes it out of the realm of ‘low-fat’, but I reckon that if you’re eating that much of the good stuff, a spoonful or so of the good fats won’t do you any harm.)
This salad is also lovely warm. I often make it a few days after Christmas with all my leftover roast vegetables and extra chickpeas, and serve it warm with thick slices of soppressa salami cooked in a pan. And maybe some good bread. Gorgeous. But I also make a more planned version of it as a lovely vegetarian side dish for my Christmas table (which leans heavily towards vegetables anyway – we usually have one roast turkey breast and about fifteen vegetable sides). It’s especially good for those Christmases when it is too hot to cook, but you want your roast vegetable fix.
In a pinch, you can use cannelini beans instead of chickpeas, but chickpeas are gorgeous, so why would you? And of course, there is no reason you have to use tinned chickpeas – I imagine the saffron chickpeas I made for that Roman Feast a few weeks ago would be lovely in this.