Expanding the horizons of roast veges
In this case, with a simple butter toasted cumin tomato sauce (although other spice-unrelated ideas are presented under the photo).
To understand the origins of this simple step forward: I have a hard time getting excited about making my own curry. Inevitably I don’t have one of the fifteen spices the recipe calls for, or one of the multiple hours the recipe requires me to foster the pot for. However, I am a rather avid fan of the aroma and deliciousness that is toasted cumin, sizzled with garlic and onions in a little butter, stirred into tomato goop. That stuff I can drink for dinner, but then I went one better and poured this sauce over roast veges, which became a real eureka moment (the aroma kept me busy from having a eureka photography moment though, sorry :P).
Unlike a curry, the veges are roasted on their ownsome to develop their own unique glorious flavour – the sauce just makes the veges a little more exciting, without dominating the show, but still cling nicely to each unique-tasting bite. No need for a food processor to blitz a gravy. Use whatever veges you have in season. Heck, you can even use a different spice, or spice set (garam masala, cheapo curry powder, curry paste, coriander seeds…). To make this into a fully fledged meal, I’ve made a few suggestions at the bottom of the recipe. It makes pretty good leftovers as well, and could also be pureed with cream cheese for a pretty rad dip. Hell, you could omit the spice and use olives and herbs and take this in a Mediterranean direction (I’ve actually done this with different veges, subbed cooked pasta in for the potatoes, chucked grated cheese over and baked till golden…best pasta bake ever). I would recommend potatoes no matter what though, because…who doesn’t like roast potatoes?!
Roast veges & eureka sauce
Makes as much or as little as you want. 1x 400g can of tomatoes + a large roasting pan full of veg will make a dry curry though, as a guide – so alter to suit your preferences.
- Enough vegetables to fill your roasting dish/tummies, cut into bite-size pieces (I used cauliflower, broccoli, button mushrooms, potatoes, carrot, and red onion)
- oil to coat the potatoes
Preheat oven to 200C (400F) before starting anything. While it’s doing that, cut your veges.
Once the oven is hot, drizzle your potatoes with oil in the roasting pan, and stick in for 15 minutes* (if not using potatoes, skip this step). You can make sauce while it cooks, or finish chopping the rest of your veges. Remove par-cooked potatoes from oven, and stir through other veges to coat in a bit of oil (if using broccoli, try to get these to sit at the bottom to prevent the florets from burning, unless you like that about roasted broccoli). Return to oven for 15-20 minutes, until veges are ever so slightly under cooked. Pour sauce over and stir through, and return to oven for 5 minutes.
*You can cover the potatoes with a baking tray if you want to use less oil but don’t want them to go too dry and leathery. This also prevents the oil from burning.
- 1 x 400g can tomato goop of choice** (I had chopped toms, but normally use bottled passata)
- about 30g-40g butter (who really measures these things) or a few Tbs cooking oil if you’re lactose intolerant
- a Tbs cooking oil (to prevent butter from burning)
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1/2 tsp salt (more if using unsalted tomato goop)
- 1 tsp cumin (ground or whole)
**Acceptable choices include: passata, puree, chopped tomatoes, whole tomatoes in juice, or chopped fresh tomatoes
Toast your cumin in a pan on medium heat until fragrant, or you can do it when you were preheating the oven, but be careful that it doesn’t burn – you have to have your nose about you!
Melt butter on medium heat with everything except the tomatoes. Once the garlic starts to smell fragrant too, pour your tomatoes in, and turn off heat (you can leave the sauce on the heat).
Some ideas to make into a full meal:
- Add chopped semi-firm tofu in with your veges.
- Once out of the oven, top with cubes of feta or haloumi.
- Add chopped paneer when adding the sauce (and some spinach).
- Sprinkle over grated cheese once you’ve stirred the veges through.
- Sear meat while you sear the garlic/onions, and cook the meat most of the way through in the sauce rather than taking the sauce off the heat immediately after adding the tomato.
If you have any other ideas, feel free to share them with me, as I have a feeling I’m going to be resorting to this a lot as the days get cooler – any excuse to have the oven on will be a good one!
I’m starting to actually enjoy eating cauliflower leaves, which are mostly thrown away. They have a wonderfully refreshing note to them. To use them, just strip them off the larger stalks, but you can leave the smaller ones whole. They are especially yummy with stir fried Chinese cabbage and a little Japanese soy sauce, you just have to let them cook for a bit first before adding the Chinese cabbage. They’d also work well in soups, where you can add the stalks (finely chopped) as well. Basically you treat the leaves like cabbage or kale. Some blogs seem to suggest you need to cook them for an hour, but I think that would cook the life out of them! Given that cauliflower plants are mostly leaf, it seems pretty wasteful to sell them with the leaves cut off!
PS. I have landed safely in Sydney, and have already found a cute coffee place! The goats cheese, caramelised onion and thyme sandwich was just what I needed to distract me from all the noise – I feel like such a country lass living in the CBD >.<