Lentils for breakfast- welcome

Here is your invitation to sample beautiful recipes that are good for you, good for the planet and good to eat. They mainly feature plants, because that's what I try to eat the most. I am not a fancy cook, but I believe that food is one of our greatest pleasures and deserves to be celebrated. Real food, whole food, kind food. Welcome to the feast!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Roasted summer vegetables with basil

Summer vegetables ready for roasting on a bed of basil leaves. 

I had planned to make insalata di farro con verdure al forno today. It's an appealing-looking recipe from Jamie Oliver's hugely successful title, Jamie's Italy.

Decided I was ready to try farro, even though it's a dreaded grain. I have 2 perfectly good boxes of quinoa in the cupboard that would work as well in the recipe, but I don't like quinoa. It tastes mineral-y. But I've always loved the pic by of Jamie's grainy insalata (by David Loftus or Chris Terry) and thought it would work very well as a take-to-work lunch.

I bought all the ingredients this morning . . . but the health food shop didn't come to the party - no farro. So, that was the end of that idea for today. I stomped home feeling very cross, while trying to think of a good alternative with the vegetables I had purchased.

And this is it. It's from my faithful old standby, Jude Blereau's Wholefood. I've always meant to try it. The page is flagged, in fact - so this is what I did.

1 eggplant, cut into slices approx 2 cm thick
olive oil for brushing
handful fresh basil, roughly torn
1 red pepper
2 medium zucchinis, cut into chunks approx 5 cm thick
2 roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthways
1 garlic clove, skin left on, wrapped in baking paper  (twist to seal) with a little salt & pepper
salt & pepper to taste

Grill the red pepper and set aside.

If the eggplant is old and large (I decided mine was, to be on the safe side), lay the slices on the draining board next to the sink and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave for 30 mins to draw out the bitter juices. Then rinse and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Brush the bottom of a roasting tin with olive oil and add the roughly torn basil. Arrange all the vegetables on the basil and brush lightly with olive oil. Jude makes the point that, as these vegetables have a higher moisture content than root vegetables, they require less oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Add the garlic clove in its twisted wrap and bake.

After 20 mins, check if the garlic clove is nice and soft. Remove from the oven and return the vegetables for another 30 mins or so - until they are cooked and lightly coloured.

Peel and slice the red pepper and add to the vegetables with the squished garlic flesh.

The basil leaves imprinted themselves in the eggplant! Sweet, soft summer vegetables just roasted.

Jude calls this dish 'the harvest celebrated', and the bright, sweet, basil-y aroma is summery and enticing. The colours are gorgeous and fresh. She suggests eating it with good bread, good cheese, pesto and organic wine (she's specific about the organic bit, but it's possible that the non-organic kind would be just as enjoyable).

It would be a welcome addition to omelettes, sandwiches or pasta as well. A kind of multi-purpose ratatouille-lite.

I'm going to reheat it tomorrow for lunch with some cannellini beans and spinach. Serendipitous, in the end, not being able to buy farro today.

Late afternoon sunshine casting shadows. Fresh, light tastes for the last days of summer.

And you, have you ever discovered a really wonderful recipe because you couldn't make the one you planned? Do you find it easy to switch direction, or do you have to have a little sulk first? Leave me a comment and tell me your recipe U-turns.

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