This is a very simple recipe that can either be served as a side dish or over cous-cous or rice as a meal (though in that case, I’d probably stir in a tin or two of chickpeas ten minutes before the end of cooking). But simple doesn’t mean ‘non-tasty’, at least not in my book, and this is rather gorgeous – the tahini balances the sweetness of the spices and maple syrup, preventing this from turning into Dessert Vegetables, which would be a bit weird even for me, and I love the way that every bite tastes slightly different – gingery or anisey or cinnamon-laden or sesame-seedish, though I admit, this is probably an artefact of me not mixing things together well enough. The flavours do all go together beautifully, however. And the colours are a perfect celebration of autumn!
I admit, there is a fair bit of peeling and chopping involved in this recipe, but it’s also a fairly relaxing recipe to make – you can peel serenely while listening to a CD, and then, when everything is in the oven, you can sit down with a book or pop onto the internet and read a blog post or two while it all bakes. The oven is doing all the work.
If you happen to have leftovers after this, you can combine them with stock and more chickpeas to make a stunningly flamingo-pink soup, worth eating for the colour alone, but also gorgeously velvety and tasty.
Your Shopping List1/2 a butternut pumpkin (mine was moderately sized, but this recipe is fairly approximate, so you decide what you like!) 4 carrots, as many colours as you can find 6 baby beetroots 3 parsnips 2 onions 500 g orange sweet potato
2 tbsp tahini1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup canola or sunflower oil2 tsp cinnamon 3 star anises (what is the plural of star anise, anyway?) 1 tsp ground coriander 1/2 tsp allspice 1/2 tsp cumin a knob of fresh ginger approximately 1 x 2 inches a good pinch of nutmeg
Now what will you do with it?
Peel your pumpkin and chop it into chunks. Peel your carrots and parsnips, and split them lengthways, then chop them into two or three lengths. Slice your onions into half-moons, and peel your beetroot, then halve or quarter them, depending on size. Last of all, peel your sweet potato (which will discolour quite fast once exposed to air), slice it into chunks about 1 1/2 cm thick, and then into halves or quarters. Or any other way you like.
Put all of these gorgeous veggies into the biggest baking tray you’ve got – you want them to sit in a single layer – and pre-heat the oven to 210°C.
There are two ways to approach the next bit. If, like me, you will do nearly anything to avoid extra dishes, you can just start measuring all the dressing ingredients and dumping them directly into the oven tray. The advantage is less washing up; the disadvantage is that you will probably not distribute all the flavours very evenly. Actually, I kind of liked that, but you might not.
If, however, you are a bit more sensible, I suggest getting a large measuring jug and whisking together the oil, tahini and maple syrup. Finely chop or grate your ginger, and add it to this mixture, whisking well, and then add all the other spices except the star anise and stir. A little salt might not be a bad idea here. Pour this mixture over the veggies in the tray.
Toss the vegetables very well in the spice mixture. Personally, I’d recommend using your hands, because you get a much better distribution that way, but a serving spoon or egg-flip thing would also do, provided you’re thorough. Tuck the star anise artistically among the vegetables, and put your tray in the oven.
Roast your luscious autumn vegetables for approximately 30 – 35 minutes, or until the beetroot are soft enough to eat and the veggies are nicely caramelised but not burned or dried out (I let mine go a little too far, I must confess).
Eat as part of an autumn feast – I can’t help feeling that any meal involving chestnuts would be a great accompaniment for these veggies – and be delighted.
These are of course gluten-free, vegan, fairly low-GI and not too bad in the fructose department if you take out the onions. They are nut-free, but be aware that many people with nut allergies also have problems with sesame seeds, so do check this before feeding them to someone who can’t eat nuts.
In terms of flavour variations, you could do almost anything. Increasing or decreasing the spice levels to your taste is easy, of course, and you could also add chilli and cardamom if you wanted to give this dish a more Indian feel. Serving them with plain Greek yoghurt over rice would be lovely, actually. You could also change the combination of vegetables or use just one kind, according to taste. It’s fairly hard to go wrong with roast vegetables.
Oh, and the aforementioned soup? Take 3 cups leftover roasted vegetables and combine in the blender with 1 cup of chickpeas or white beans and 4 cups of stock – any kind, provided it’s good. Blend until smooth, then heat and serve. Delicious. And very, very pink.
I am, of course, submitting this recipe to my April Vegetarian Food Challenge – Sweet Spices, Savoury Suppers, though if I am really honest, this does need another element to be a supper – personally, I’d stir through some cooked chickpeas at the end and serve it over couscous. Easy.
I am also submitting this to Carole’s Food on Friday: Pumpkins and Parsnips challenge.
This time last year…