In the late 1980s, when I first went vegan, resources were few and far between. There were few cookbooks, and no worldwide web to find new recipes. There were certainly no vegan convenience foods outside of frozen or canned vegetables. Oh, those primitive days …
At the time, I’d been vegetarian for about 10 years, so I was used to cooking without meat. But most meals I made back then were heavy on the dairy. After I started experiencing congestion from all that dairy, I decided to go vegan. (About 15 years ago, I added occasional eggs and a small amount of sheep cheese back into my diet.)
I had a few reliable vegan cookbooks back then—The Natural Foods Cookbook by Mary Estella and The Natural Gourmet by Annemarie Colbin. But I often liked to keep it simple with just steamed veggies, grain and sometimes, some sort of sauce. It was a desire for something new that sparked the idea for the sauce in today’s recipe.
I don’t remember what made me think of experimenting with this particular sauce, but it turned out to be a favorite way to dress plain veggies. It’s made from mostly carrots and onions, with just a few simple condiments to spice it up.
Yesterday was the first time I’ve ever added ginger to the sauce. The sweetness of the carrots and ginger were a good complement to the savory roasted broccoli and cauliflower. I put the sauce together yesterday afternoon so that the flavors would have time to blend by dinnertime. I heated it, gently, when it was time to serve.
Feel free to come up with your own variations. In retrospect, some ground cumin would have been good with the carrots and ginger. You can always change up the roasted veggies or use a different grain. I used brown basmati rice last evening, but quinoa or millet would be good too.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a quick, nutritious veggie-loaded dish for a weeknight, this is a great choice. The recipe feeds two people with some sauce left over for another meal. You can double the grain and veggies if you’re feeding more people.
Meatless Monday: Roasted Veggies with Carrot-Ginger-Tahini Sauce
- 1/2 uncooked brown or white basmati rice, quinoa, or whatever grain you like
- 4-6 medium carrots
- 1 small onion
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- up to a 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1-2 tablespoons miso
- water from steaming the carrots and onions
- 4-5 cups of one or more of the following veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, Brussels sprouts, romanesco, asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- pinch of salt
- Brown or white basmati rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat groats (or any other grain that you like)
- Toasted pepitas (optional)
- Start cooking the rice, or whatever grain you’re using, according to its instructions. Let it simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Chop the carrots and onions. There’s no need to chop them into small pieces since they will ultimately be puréed.
- Steam the carrots and onions until soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Put the carrots and onions into a blender or food processor with the garlic, ginger, tahini and miso, adding the cooking water as needed for the consistency you like. If you run out of the cooking water, just add plain old water.
- You can make the sauce well ahead of time if you like. This streamlines the cooking process for the rest of the meal and lets the ingredients integrate.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Chop the veggies into bite-sized pieces. Toss them with olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Roast on a cookie sheet until partially browned, 20-25 minutes.
- I used just cauliflower and broccoli for this particular bowl. Because cauliflower takes longer to roast, I put it into the oven first and added the broccoli after about 7 minutes. Summer squash will take even less time—3-5 minutes less than broccoli—depending on how thickly you slice them.
- To serve, place the rice and veggies side-by-side in a wide bowl. Spoon the sauce over the grain and sprinkle toasted pepitas over everything.