After spending most of the week away from home, I wanted a healthy fix of lots of vegetables on Saturday night. In summer this usually means a big colourful salad but in winter my mind turns to roasted vegetables to bring comfort and goodness.
That morning we had visited the Book Grocer in Sydney Road, Brunswick, where I found a copy of Café Flora Cookbook from the eponymous vegetarian café in Seattle. It had some great recipes – particularly some great ideas for bringing different dishes together. I didn’t buy it in an attempt not to overload my cookery book shelves but I may be back for it.
Flicking through the book in the store, I came across a recipe for a lentil dish with a rich sauce. The sauce looked complicated with directions for straining all the ingredients. After I left, all that stuck in my head was the idea of adding apple and prunes to the sauce.
I thought I could just bypass two dishes that were to be served together and cook the lentils with a rich dark fruity sauce. I wish I could remember the recipe (which is one reason I am tempted to be back to buy the book). Instead I sought out the flavourings one might use for a rich gravy. I realised I didn’t have fresh mushrooms so used some dry shitake instead.
I wanted to roast a variety of vegetables. Potato and pumpkin remind me of the great roasts my mum makes. I have recently become a fan of roast cauliflower. I have never roasted Brussels sprouts before but saw on a blog recently someone saying how much her husband loves the crispy roast sprouts leaves. (Sorry I haven’t recorded who wrote this.) And the combination seemed pleasingly colourful.
I served with a dollop of yoghurt but in hindsight think a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle of pepper on the veggies might have been better. The lentils were had so many interesting flavours – both savoury and sweet – that they didn’t need the yoghurt.
Roast vegetables with fruity lentils
(with apologies to Café Flora)
3 medium potatoes, cut into 8 wedges
½ butternut pumpkin, cut into wedges
1 parsnip chopped into chunks
300g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
½ cauliflower, cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
⅓ cup puy lentils or brown lentils
2 cups hot water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp finely chopped shitake mushrooms (or handful fresh mushrooms)
1 scant tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp red wine
½ tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp chilli paste
1 apple, cored, peeled and diced
⅓ cup prunes, chopped
½ cup parsley, finely chopped (or less if you don’t have much)
Preheat oven to 230ºC.
Put potatoes into medium saucepan of about 1 inch of cold water – bring to the boil and simmer about 5 mins. Drain.
Heat oil in large roasting pan in oven while potatoes simmering. Take roasting pan out of oven and add potatoes, pumpkin and parsnip. Toss to coat with oil. Roast for 30 mins. Add cauliflower and sprouts. Give veggies a good toss. Roast another 60 mins. Toss about every 20 minutes. (If necessary spray with some oil spray so they will crisp in the oven.)
While veggies are cooking make the fruity lentils. Fry onions over medium heat about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except fruit and herbs. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add apple and prunes. Simmer covered for another 30 minutes, til lentils are soft and most of water is absorbed. Remove bay leaves.
Serve roasted vegetables with lentil mixture.
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