One Vegetable Dish to Rule Them All!

Cooking one main element of a meal can be made difficult enough by over-complicated recipes requiring foreign ingredients which you can only source from remote areas of Eastern Africa…

What I’m trying to say is that the side dishes should be straight forward. After doing this once you’ll be able to put your own spin on it and never look at the recipe again – allowing you to focus on the other elements! Try pairing this with a simple Roast Chicken recipe to have a super easy meal.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Choose from a selection of:

  • Swede
  • Celeriac
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • New Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Butternut Squash
  • Pumpkin (when in season)
  • Courgettes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Onions/Shallots

I’ve put the vegetables in a rough guide of hardness (i.e. the one’s which will take the longest to cook are at the top, down to the shortest cooking time at the bottom). Choose about 5 vegetables, that’ll sort your 5-a-day and give you a delicious variety of vegetables. The season might influence your decision – summer calls for new potatoes, bell peppers, and courgettes – winter brings the best out of celeriac, pumpkin, and squash.

I’m also omitting some other veg because this recipe becomes too daunting! But broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beetroot, green beans, asparagus etc are all good!

Method

I’ll run you through each veggie and then a general guide for roasting to follow:

  1. Knife sharpness is crucial, a blunt blade requires more pressure to cut which increases the likelihood of chopping something you don’t want to if you slip.
  2. Secure the vegetable on its flattest side before making cuts.
  3. Keep your fingers well clear of the blade, for stability you can always place your flat hand on top of the knife blade.
  4. You’ll get a lot of peelings with this veggie prep which are great for making vegetable stock or incredible nutrients in your compost.
  • Swede
    • Remove the outer skin with your sharp knife.
    • Cut the swede into pieces around 2cm x 2cm.
  • Celeriac
    • Remove the outer skin with your sharp knife.
    • Cut the swede into pieces around 2cm x 2cm.
  • Carrots
    • You can use baby carrots (which may not need chopping), or rainbow carrots (quite thin ones will just need to be washed and cut in half), or larger carrots which will need cutting to size).
    • Chop the head and tail off the carrots (use for stock or discard).
    • Peel the carrots or use a fresh kitchen scourer to remove dirt from smaller carrots.
    • Cut larger carrots length-ways and then into chunks no bigger than an inch.
  • Parsnips
    • Similarly to carrots, it will depend on the size of your parsnips.
    • Tiny parsnips might not need to be cut but are still best peeled. Larger parsnips can be divided length-ways and then into chunks no larger than an inch after being peeled.
  • New Potatoes
    • Remove the eyes from any potatoes you’re dealing with and discard them. (These would taste like dirt if they were left on!)
    • Half larger potatoes and leave whole smaller ones. There’s no need to peel the potatoes as you’ll get some crispy skins packed full of nutrients.
  • Sweet Potatoes
    • Peel your sweet potatoes using your veggie peeler.
    • Chop them into 1-inch chunks.
  • Butternut Squash
    • Remove the outer skin of the squash using a knife (the skin is too hard for most household peelers).
    • Half the squash to reveal the seeds, remove and discard the seeds along with the stringy bits.
    • Chop the remaining squash into 1-inch chunks.
  • Pumpkin (when in season)
    • Remove the outer skin with your sharp knife.
    • Carefully chop the pumpkin in half and scoop the insides out. The seeds you’ll find would be great for a pumpkin soup or pie.
    • Chop the remaining pumpkin into 1-inch chunks.
  • Courgettes
    • Chop both ends off the courgettes. Half them length-ways, and again to be left with 4 long courgette pieces. Chop these into 1-inch chunks.
  • Bell Peppers
    • Chop a small amount of the top and bottom of the bell pepper.
    • Make a cut down one side of the pepper (just through the flesh, not near the seeds). Get your knife inside the pepper and unhook the core from the outer skin (see picture).
    • Chop into 1-inch chunks.
  • Onions/Shallots
    • Peel your onion and chop it roughly into 1-inch chunks.

Chunk size should mean that you don’t have to stagger when your ingredients go into your roasting tray. Each vegetable varies in cooking time, but having similar size chunks will even the cooking times.

  1. After selecting your 5 veg, chop them accordingly and put them into a roasting tray.
  2. Drizzle the veg with olive oil (enough to lightly coat the veg). Season with salt and  pepper and toss around so that all the veg is coated with oil and seasoning.
  3. At this stage you can put your own twist on it. Add herbs and spices to your liking, just think about how they pair with each of the vegetables. Cayenne Pepper is great if you like some spice, and thyme is perfect for accompanying a roast dinner.
  4. Place into a preheated oven (190c) on the middle shelf and cook for about 45 minutes, turning with a spatula at least every 15 minutes.
  5. Stab the biggest chunks of each of the veg with a knife. If the knife goes in quite easily, the veg is ready. If it still feels quite firm it’ll need some more time so try 10 minutes at a time until you’re happy.
  6. Have a taste! Make sure everything’s as you want it before serving.