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I ENTERED THIS RECIPE IN THE RECIPE WRITING COMPETITION AT
EAT DRINK BLOG, THE CONFERENCE FOR FOOD BLOGGERS THAT I ATTENDED IN CANBERRA OCT 16TH – 18TH 2015.
MY RECIPE AND I WON SECOND PRIZE
I had a grand total of two followers when I first posted this recipe, my husband and my daughter. It was my very first post and it received zero attention. A staple cool weather dinner in our household, we recently welcomed a grey autumn day as a chance to enjoy a bowl of warm spiced roasted veg salad.
Embarrassed by the quality of the images on that very first post, I deleted the entire thing. I republished my Cajun Spice Mix recipe last year, then advocating it’s use as coating for pan fried chicken breast fillets, but to be honest I much prefer it with oven baked vegetables.
It’s rare for me to make a roast dinner in the traditional manner of my Mum’s generation, but we still love the intensity of flavour that oven cooked potato, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato and parsnip develop. The spice mix intensifies that flavour deliciously.
You can use any vegetables in the salad though. I like a combination of root vegetables, then I add whatever other seasonal veg I have to hand. Today I included zucchini, red pepper, cherry tomatoes and thick slices of corn on the cob. Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, mushrooms and asparagus are all delicious too.
Crunchy cashews or pine nuts are my choice of protein here, the perfect textural counterpoint to the soft roasted veg while fresh baby spinach leaves or blanched beans tossed through the roasted vegies at the end of the cooking time add a fresh contrast. Finish with a slosh of balsamic vinegar to sharpen the flavour and dinner is ready to serve.
I group the veggies according to the amount of time they need to cook. Equal weights of carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and parsnips go in one pile, then sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and red pepper in another. Once prepared and in the oven, basically, dinner cooks itself!
This quantity will serve 4 as a main meal
Cajun Spiced Roast Vegie Salad
3 medium sized potatoes, scrubbed ( I chose Nicola)
1/2 large sweet potato (kumara)
small wedge of Jap pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons of my Cajun Spice Mix (recipe below)
1 red pepper
1 cob of corn
1 medium zucchini
150g cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup pine nuts or cashews
180g green beans, topped and tailed
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
Pre heat the oven to 180C fan forced. Lightly oil 2 oven trays.
Scrub the potatoes. Peel the pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots and parsnips Cut the vegetables into even bite sized chunks.
In a large bowl toss the root vegetables with the olive oil and the cajun spice.
Spread the vegetables in a single layer across the oiled oven trays and roast for 40 minutes.
While the root vegetables are roasting, remove the husk from the corn cob and chop into 3cm thick slices.
Cut the red pepper into 3cm squares.
Halve the zucchini lengthwise and cut into 3cm thick slices.
Toss the corn, zucchini, red pepper and cherry tomatoes together in the spicy oil residual in the bowl.
After the root vegetables have baked for 40 minutes, carefully turn them over then add the remaining vegetables.
Sprinkle the nuts on top.
Return to the trays of vegetables to the oven for another 20 minutes.
Steam the green beans for 6 minutes.
Tip the trays of roasted vegetables and nuts into a large bowl. Add the beans and balsamic vinegar and lightly toss.
Leftover roasted root vegetable salad makes a delicious frittata. Chop the kernels from the cobs of corn and cut the beans into short lengths then mix all the veggies together with eggs. Either cook on the stovetop or in the oven
Sandra’s Cajun Spice
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin seed
1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon hing (or granulated garlic)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pound everything together in a mortar, or process until the peppercorns and sesame are crushed.
If you are interested in exploring spices in depth, my favourite reference is Spice Notes by Ian “Herbie” Hemphill