I sense exciting times around the corner. As much as I love the summer and the bounty of edible goodies that comes with it, it is the Autumn that gets me most excited. Thanks to the odd weather we have had this year, early root vegetables are beginning to poke their heads out of the soil, and it is this most versatile of vegetable that has my creative juices flowing.
Take a turnip, swede, beetroot, carrot or a parsnip. Mash it, boil it, roast it or braise it. Either way, it will taste wonderful. And that is what I love about them. Cheap and plentiful, easy to prepare, and you don't need to be a top chef to get the best out of them.
Roasting is by far my favourite technique. Slowly roasting a root vegetable seems to tease out their natural sugars and achieves beautiful soft sweetness. Blend them at this stage with a little stock and you have an amazing intense soup. I took a whole load of roots and slow roasted them with a little cumin and chilli. The spice and the heat seem to compliment a slow roasted root and somehow makes them taste even better.
I also threw in a couple of late summer vegetables from the hot house, peppers and courgettes, as well as a tin of borlotti beans. A couple of lamb leg steaks with mint and lemon roasted for the final 20 minutes made for a superb one tray supper, the vegetables soaking up any leaked juices to add to the already fabulous sweet slow roasted flavour.
Slow Roasted Cumin and Chilli Vegetables with Minted Lamb
Makes one baking tray worth
1 turnip, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 beetroot, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 courgette, cut into large chunks
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 tbsp cumin seeds1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 lamb leg steaks
A handful of fresh mint, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tin of borlotti beans
Olive or rapeseed oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 - Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C, GM4.
2 - Place all of the vegetables except for the courgette into a large baking tray. Slice the lemon and squeeze one half over the vegetables, putting the lemon half into the tray. Scatter on the cumin seeds, chilli and seasoning along with a good glug of olive or rapeseed oil. Combine thoroughly and then place on a high shelf in the oven. Roast for 1 hour.
3 - Whilst the vegetables are roasting, place the mint, garlic, a little oil and seasoning into a bowl. Rub the lamb with the marinade and leave for 30 minutes.
4 - After one hour of roasting, turn the heat up to 200 degrees C, GM6. Place the courgette into the roasting tray and gently toss. Place the lamb steaks on top and put back into the oven for 20 minutes.
5 - Pour in the beans, warm through for a further 5 minutes then serve.