Roots manoeuvred


Roast Autumnal root veg with chopped Brazil nuts, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

Okay, so it’s not that delicate a looking dish, but it sure is pretty. This is one of my favourite meals; beautiful to look at, super healthy, budget friendly, but presently maddening to prepare because I have to resort to hacking up the squash and pumpkin with a bread knife. Show me a man who carves his pumpkin this Halloween with a bread knife and I will show you a frustrated man. I keep hearing Paul Hogan’s dulcet tones mocking me whenever I get the bread-knife out… It is a knife, Paul, it’s just not the right one.

However, I will not be beaten (and I’m also too cheap to go out and buy a more suitable knife) and fortunately the rest of the recipe is simple so one can afford to exert some energy and frustration at the beginning.

This recipe serves about 4, but because it is such a faff for me to prepare and takes a bit of time to roast, I tend to make a lot as it keeps well and makes for a nice addition to other meals, like salads, over the week. You can reheat the veg, but it tastes just as good cold. It would also work just as well as a side dish.

To make it you will need the following:

1 butternut squash
Half a small pumpkin
3 parsnips
1 chilli deseeded
1 onion
2 tsp of dried chilli flakes though you can add more depending on how much heat you want.
2 or 3 sprigs of thyme
5 cloves of garlic
Dried oregano
Salt and pepper to season
Olive oil

The method

Preheat your oven to 200C.
Chop up the butternut squash, pumpkin, onion and parsnips into roughly 1 inch pieces and place on a baking tray.
Sprinkle on the dried and fresh chillies. You don’t need both types of chilli, but I think that the dried chillies make for a greater depth of flavour to the dish.
Add the thyme, a sprinkling of oregano and paprika.
Then add the garlic cloves whole and in their skins. Roasting them this way mellows their normally pungent flavour into a sweet and buttery one.
Finally complete with a light drizzle of olive oil, just enough to for the herbs and spices to stick to the foods.
Put the baking tray in the oven and cook for about 45 mins, depending on how roasted your like your roots.

To garnish

2 spring onions
A small handful of roughly chopped walnuts
A small handful of roughly chopped brazil nuts
1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds

I choose to garnish with nuts and seeds for several reasons; their colour beautifully compliments the bright autumnal colours of the veg, they add a wonderful earthy flavour and crunchy texture to the soft, sweet squash and parsnips, they are low GI, packed with nutrients and good at satisfying hunger. If you are looking to follow a low carb or low GI diet, or even just want to reduce eating heavier carbs late in the evening, they are a great way to go. The one thing to remember is that although full of heart-healthy fats, they are still full of fats, so don’t go too nuts with your nuts.

To serve

When it comes to choosing a wine for roasted veg, you gotta know your onions. Today, I am really hankering after a glass of red wine and as the sun is over the yard arm (well it would be if it wasn’t raining) with red on my mind, today’s choice is: Beajoulais. The caramel flavours of the roasted garlic and roots veg lend for a lighter red wine and Beajoulais should make for a nice pairing. Ironically the only decent wine I could buy in Vietnam, is the one wine I haven’t managed to get hold of here. Beaujolais-Villages 2011 Georges Duboeuf, available at Majestic, saw me through 4 weeks of travelling around Vietnam and has now made it into recipe history on Desert Island Whisks. So please, raise your glasses for old George and have a few for me.

The song as picked by British Vogue’s editor Alexandra Shulman (the last castaway I heard before leaving for Barbados), is Bongo Bong by Manu Chao. A brilliant song and perfect for cheering up a miserable day.




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