Last Updated on December 17, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
Delicious vegan and vegetarian recipes with minimal washing up
Introducing The Green Roasting Tin – this is the kind of cooking I like. Put a whole bunch of healthy veg into a roasting tin, pop into a hot oven and return an hour later to serve dinner. Minimal washing up is an added bonus.
The Green Roasting Tin (Square Peg) is one of a series of four cookbooks in The Roasting Tin series. Written by Rukmini Iyer and beautifully photographed by David Loftus, it is a book devoted to traybakes, divided into vegan and vegetarian sections with 75 recipes overall. Each section is divided by the time taken to complete the cooking whether 30 minutes, 45 or one hour. And to make the book even more user-friendly, a beautifully illustrated infographic section is full of ideas for how readers can design their own contents for a roasting tin whether a warm salad, stew, tart or super grain tray. This is certainly one of those cookbooks I will be returning to repeatedly and will be gifting to family members who are starting out on independent living and cooking.
Inspired by her mother’s Indian cooking, Iyer includes recipes for curries that can be cooked on a tray rather quicker than slow cooking on the stove. She traverses the globe using all sorts of grains that lend themselves well to being baked in the oven. These are super healthy but there are also treats aplenty in the tart section where ready-rolled puff pastry has a starring role.
It was not easy to pick just a few recipes from The Green Roasting Tin to try out for a review. I began with escalivada otherwise known as roast vegetables with a basil and almond dressing. Not a week goes by in my household without a tray of roast veg, but this method took an easy to prepare dish and made it even simpler. I usually chop my veg into chunks before dousing in garlicky oil for roasting. Green Tin Roasting cuts out the chopping altogether and roasts the vegetables whole. What a brilliant idea. The garlic cloves are left unpeeled which, when roasted, give up a sweet garlic paste which is whisked into a simple dressing. Add some torn basil leaves and a loaf of crusty bread and tuck in. We ate this sunny Mediterranean dish on a grey day where heavy rain persisted and the sky grew dark as we sat to eat this exuberance of veg from sunny climes. Aubergines, peppers, tomatoes. Perhaps autumn is not the ideal time produce wise to cook this dish, but it sure lifted our spirits as we were transported to the South of France with every mouthful. What more could you ask of a simple dish?
The leftovers were just as good the next day. The veg made fantastic, lunchtime sourdough toasties – I layered then on top of a spread of cream cheese – and I still had some over for dinner as a side to a bulghar wheat dish.
Coming across a recipe for mushroom fesenjan I knew this was a recipe that had to be tried. I adore fesenjan – a popular Persian recipe that combines walnuts and pomegranate molasses and has a wonderful sweet and sour flavour. I have made this sauce with guinea fowl, chicken, duck, and often aubergine. I usually use the slow, traditional method which involves at least an hour of cooking the walnuts down into a deep, brown sauce. Although this makes an exquisite fesenjan sauce, who doesn’t appreciate a short cut on a busy weekday? So it was that within 50 minutes I had the whole dish complete and ready to eat. The Green Roasting Tin makes dishes so quick and easy and this one is a keeper. Fesenjan is never going to be a great looker – a brown, mushy sauce doesn’t do much for even the most elegant vegetables – but dress it up with chopped coriander and the jewels that are pomegranate seeds and your guests will be happy. Once they have had a taste of these mushrooms they will be very happy.
I tried one last recipe from the vegan section which was a colourful and very summery orzo with cherry tomatoes and bay leaves. November is not perhaps the best month for such a dish, but I was able to locate a lovely punnet of juicy cherry tomatoes which called out ‘roast me now’. As with all the other dishes, this was so quick to prepare and was cooked within 20 minutes. It looked pretty too – all red and green and cream – and I liked the contrast between the slightly tart and yielding tomatoes with the sweet crunch of finely chopped red onion. The orzo provided ballast. When I make this again I might go from vegan to vegetarian by adding some mozzarella which will be simply fabulous with this dish.
For my fourth dish, I tried out a recipe from the vegetarian section – cannellini bean falafel with potato wedges, spinach and pomegranate. While I love a good falafel ball, I never make my own as it seems too much faff. I hoped that this simple recipe might change my perspective. Using cannellini beans rather than the traditional chickpeas, it was a matter of draining a tin of beans, crushing some garlic, chopping chives, crumbling feta and letting the food processor do the rest. I chopped sweet potato into wedges and did some rolling of the bean mixture which was rather relaxing. When I removed the tray from the hot oven after 40 minutes I went ‘oops’. My falafel balls had dissolved, and the mixture had spread all over the tray like a biscuit that had lost its shape. I went back to the recipe to check whether I had left out a crucial ingredient. Perhaps I over-pulsed the mixture. In fairness, the falafel mix tasted good and dressed up with the spinach, pomegranate and some Greek yoghurt, I was happy to serve it as a sort of mash. I just didn’t say we were having falafel for dinner.
In all likelihood, I won’t be making this particular recipe again, but I am still full of enthusiasm for The Green Roasting Tin because it is packed with healthy, quick and easy vegan and vegetarian recipes. For those of us who mostly eat this way anyway, the book offers some oft-needed inspiration. For others who don’t know what to cook if they have vegan or vegetarian guests, the book provides loads of choice. This is a marvellous gift for Christmas and will give pleasure throughout the year ahead.
Roast vegetables with basil and almond dressing from The Green Roasting Tin
- 2 aubergines pricked with a fork
- 3 red pointy peppers
- 6 large vine tomatoes
- 1 red onion quartered
- 1 handful thyme sprigs
- 4 large garlic cloves unpeeled
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 50 grams almonds
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 25 grams fresh basil roughly torn
Preheat oven to 180 C fan/200 C/ gas 6. Tip the whole aubergine, red peppers, vine tomatoes, onion, thyme sprigs, garlic cloves, olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt into a large roasting tin. Use your hands to coat the vegetables with the oil and salt.
Roast in oven for one hour. Add the almonds for the last ten minutes.
Remove the tin from the oven. The vegetables should be charred and very soft. Remove the garlic cloves and squeeze out the roasted garlic.
Whisk the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and a teaspoon of salt along with the squeezed out garlic.
Cut off the tops and stems of the aubergine and peppers and roughly tear the vegetables open.
Finally, scatter over the basil and the lemon and garlic dressing and mix well.
Serve with crusty bread or pearl barley.