Friday, August 24, 2012

Moroccan minted roast vegetables

I'm just going to put it out there, I'm not above putting ketchup on roast potatoes. WHAT? THAT'S BLASPHEMY, THAT'S....THAT'S - that's fucking delicious is what it is. Ketchup is the sugary, vinegary, condiment of the gods, and I'm standing by this one because I've had a love affair with Heinz ketchup since childhood. I sometimes imagine good old Mr. Heinz as a dapper, 3-piece suit wearing gentleman with a curly moustache & tobacco pipe. 

I gingerly knock twice at the Victorian bureau's enormous oak doors then proceed to enter, After a heavy push, the sweet concoction of tobacco smoke, Earl Grey tea & crabtree & evelyn aftershave permeate the air. A myriad of coloured light spills through stained glass windows on either side of the cavernous bureau, silk shutters, taxidermy animals & curiousity cabinets decorate a frieze around the room. At the far end, a wirey old gent springs forth from his desk & twists his moustache ends.



With broad steps he swiftly strides across the room to meet me, almost losing his footing on a couple of white tiger cubs vigorously pawing each other on the office floor. Unperturbed, he meets me with a hug so forceful it leaves me breathless.

"Dylan my boy, such a pleasure to see you! How about we get out of this factory for the day, take our velocipedes to the lake & have a picnic? What do you say to that?!"

And so goes my heartfelt & vaguely homo-erotic image of Mr. Heinz, who for all I know could have been a misanthropic, slave-driving Nazi pedophile. Ah well, c'est la vie.

Now, I realise that slathering roast vegetables in ketchup is not socially acceptable, but this is why people need to be daring with: 

A. Their choice of vegetables to roast. 
B. The inclusion of herbs & spices. 
C. Sauces or dips made to accompany them. 

If I hadn't been subjected to so many roast dinners that just seasoned their potatoes with regular salt, pepper & animal fats, I would never have any reason to abusively unleash thick lashings of Mr Heinz at all. *Groaaaan*. 

Now for the first time in a while I'm giving you a recipe for something I made, because I stole it straight from 101 cookbooks ;) I used sweet potato for this, which is probably a bit dominant to get the best of the seasoning (delicious nonetheless). The real surprise was the cauliflower. I'm not a big fan of cauliflower, I used to like it as a kid because mum would refer to it as "ghost-tree", but now that I'm too old to be calling it a ghost tree, it's a bit bland to me, however it's an excellent carrier of flavours & comes out of the oven very juicy & full. The radishes are also delicious softened up & full of juice too.


You can use different vegetables depending on what's available, pumpkin or other winter squash, or straight potatoes. If cauliflower & radishes aren't available, use green beans and broccoli, asparagus and artichokes.

1 lb / 16 oz / 450 g mix of potatoes, cauliflower, and a few radishes

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • toppings: fresh mint, toasted sesame and/or pumpkin seeds, plain yogurt (seasoned with a bit of salt)

Preheat your oven to 425F / 220C. Wash and dry the vegetables, then cut the potatoes and cauliflower into 1/4-inch thick slices/pieces. Trim and quarter the radishes, setting aside the green radish tops.

Place the dried mint, chile pepper flakes, cumin seeds, and salt in a mortar and pestle and pound a bit, long enough to somewhat break up the cumin seeds. Add the ground cumin, cinnamon, and ground ginger. After that, add the olive oil and stir until combined.

Place the potatoes, cauliflower, and radishes in a plastic bag. Pour the spiced olive oil over the vegetables and toss gently but thoroughly - sqeeze it around until everything is equally coated. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until everything is cooked through.

Remove from the oven and serve on a platter topped with the freshly diced mint, a squeeze of lemon and any/all of the other toppings. A thick unsweetened salted yogurt really works nicely here.

Serves 4.

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 15 min
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