Monday, October 11, 2010

Oven-roasted hotchpotch

This is an easy kind of make-it-and-forget-it dish that can be a main dish or a side.  It's based on a recipe in Celia Brooks Brown's Party Food for Vegetarians which has pretty pictures and fun ideas (and some recipes for fish, which are actually under a chapter heading containing the word "pescetarians", but you don't have to look at it...).

Her version is fat free.  I added a tablespoon of olive oil to mine but honestly, it didn't seem to make much difference.  Better would be to follow Celia's suggestion and serve the dish with something a little oily like garlic bread.

I didn't actually follow her recipe, nor did I use the same vegetables she recommends, though that is all probably part of the "hotchpotch" experience and she probably wouldn't mind.  First chop slow cooking vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  I used celery, mushrooms, kabocha squash, garbanzo beans, sweet potato, sweet red pepper, and sweet millions.  I missed the part in the recipe where she adds red onions, so I didn't put any onions in mine, but if you make it, you should, as they will improve it.  Mix the vegetables in a shallow baking dish or a casserole dish.  You don't want them too high, but they can be layered a bit higher than you would for roasting.

Now add your spices.  Celia and I used the interesting mixture of lemon zest, basil, coriander seeds, nutmeg, salt and black pepper, and cayenne pepper.  I liked the coriander-nutmeg blend and will use it again.  Now pour on a considerable amount of carrot juice.  I've had a bottle in the fridge for a while and wanted to use it up, which was my inspiration for this dish, along with the lovely photograph in Party Food for Vegetarians.  For about 5 cups of vegetables I used almost 2 cups of carrot juice.  This seems like a lot of carroty goodness, and it is, even for a carrot fan like me.  Next time I'll probably sub half of it for vegetable broth, but you can't deny that it turns the dish a gorgeous fluorescent orange.  Now cover with tinfoil or the lid for the casserole dish and bake it at 400F for about 40 minutes.  It will smell great--the lack of onions (and garlic) prevented it from being overpowering in my small house, however, for which, later, I was grateful.  After 40 minutes I took it out and stirred it and also took the opportunity to add shredded red chard and some frozen edamame beans.  After another 10 minutes, it looked like this:

Nothing got browned; it's intended to be more of a baked stew than a roast.  With that in mind, this would probably be a fine dish for the slow cooker.  Next time I'll try it.  I served it over couscous, topped with pumpkin seeds and almost the last of the chives.  It was tasty and colourful and no-fuss, and you can't ask for much more than that.


  1. The sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top is a fun touch. Party on!

  2. Your spice blend does sound interesting...I'll have to remember that combo and give it a try. Cool idea to bake it in carrot juice. I used to have a recipe that called for cooking yams and plantain in guava always tasted really sweet and delicious.

    Gorgeous colors too!

  3. I don't believe I've ever used carrot juice to cook veggies, though I've used it to make carrot cake. What an interesting idea! This is a most attractive dish, especially with all the sprinkles.

  4. Hi, all. Despite my (I admit) somewhat lukewarm-sounding post, I had leftovers of this for lunch today and they were truly awesome. Carrot juice has been overlooked as a stock ingredient, no question, perhaps because--at least in my world--it hasn't been available until now without expensive juicers and such.