The colder months are upon us which means it’s root vegetable season. There are few things more comforting than a bowl of warm roasted veggies to warm your innards and know you’re doing them some good. Transitioning from light summer meals to winter is a challenge not only for our wardrobe; I find I have to start thinking differently about food and the type of veggies I use. Gone are the cravings for light dishes like meat and salad, our bodies are ready for some hearty winter veggies to accompany our main protein or, as a wholesome meal in themselves.
With a few simple seasoning tricks, you can take your root vegetables to the next level and create warming wholesome roast dishes you’ll be loving all winter. Keep reading to learn my top delicious picks for adding big flavour to your veggies as well as some great vegetarian recipes for winter.
Seasoning – your best ally in the kitchen
Veggies have great flavour in themselves but in order to bring those delicious flavours out and start that delicious sticky caramelization when roasting you must season! I’m not just talking your classic (though also delicious) salt, pepper and olive oil; get creative with your seasoning choices and try new flavours to give a whole different taste and vibe to your dishes.
One of my favourites when I want to do a classic veggie roast and enhance the natural flavours of the vegetables is Celery Salt Seasoning. This one is great for the avid salt lover. The blend of celery seeds, sea salt, thyme, sage, oregano, onion, garlic and pepper is a healthier alternative by using less salt without sacrificing flavour. Celery seeds are also in fact used in Eastern Medicine to treat colds, flu, poor digestion and water retention. This seasoning secret weapon is not only good for you but imparts a delightful savoury umami flavour. Simply sprinkle over any veggies and toss through with olive oil before roasting. Finish the veg with a sprinkling of feta for a zesty creamy addition and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil with balsamic. If serving with some meat like chicken or steak also give them a dusting with Celery Salt Seasoning; the salt will help with the caramelization whilst the herbs give a subtle sweet flavour and the celery seeds give a light savoury celery-like note. By seasoning your meat and veggies with the same flavours you create cohesion in your dish and all of your once separate ingredients will marry seamlessly together.
When I think of root vegetable dishes I can’t go past Middle Eastern cuisine, a region known best for their amazing spices and seasonings. Middle Eastern Za’atar is a delicate blend of sumac, thyme, oregano, sesame seeds and sea salt. Simply mix through a tray of your favourite vegetables before roasting or for an unusual take, sprinkle over cut tomatoes and roast. The herbs and salt bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes and the sumac gives them a zesty kick. The perfect accompaniment to some meat for dinner or even alongside scrambled eggs for brekky.
Sliding across to the Middle East’s neighbor, North Africa, most famous for their aromatic veggie and legume tagines. However, you don’t need a tagine at home in order to create delicious Moroccan-inspired dishes. Moroccan Ras el Hanout, an aromatic mix of sweet paprika, cumin, coriander, ginger, cassia, turmeric, fennel seeds allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, cayenne, caraway, galangal and sea salt. This blend has a fair few ingredients but is delicately balanced to create a blend that’s savoury, sweet and spicy all at the same time. At home, I tend to mix mine mostly with sweet vegetables like pumpkin and sweet potato to mix through cous cous; the nutmeg, paprika and cassia bring out the sweetness whilst the cayenne pepper adds a subtle spicy hum. A favourite dish of mine in winter using this spice mix is my Moroccan Carrot Soup. This simple well-seasoned soup can be made with either carrots or pumpkin or a combination of both and is the perfect warming winter dish.
It’s no secret I love a curry but there really is nothing more comforting than a curry to warm you up when the weather is cold outside. A favourite of mine using great winter veg is my Chickpea & Cauliflower Korma Curry. Whilst in this recipe I use chickpeas and cauliflower you can pretty substitute for any vegetables you like. I have often made this using pumpkin, carrots, kale and spinach. The Curry Northern Indian Korma mix is a blend of garam masala, ginger, turmeric, chilli powder, fenugreek and sea salt. The ginger and chilli powder are very warming spices whilst the turmeric acts as immune-building anti-inflammatory that’s much-needed in flu season. The Korma is a creamy mild curry that’s a winner with the whole family. My recipe is a vegetarian one but you can easily add meat like chicken or lamb for a hybrid curry.
In the summer months, my family go crazy for Mexican food; it’s fast, fresh and so tasty. However, I wanted to find a way to still get Mexican flavours in my more wintery dishes when fajitas and tacos just aren’t quite warming enough. That’s when I came up with my Spicy Mexican Lime Roasted Veggies. I simply chop red and yellow capsicums, potatoes, onion and zucchinis and place them on a lined baking tray with lightly-squashed whole garlic cloves, olive oil and my Mexican Tex Mex seasoning. I roast for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees tossing every now and then. They’re all done when the veggies are soft inside and caramelized on the outside. While the veggies are still hot from the oven I squeeze lime over them and serve with brown rice, smashed avocado and fresh coriander. A very healthy, delicious Mexican dish in the heart of winter.
I hope you’ve been able to gain a little knowledge and inspiration for cooking your veggies this winter. Vegetables are so good for us and can be so delicious if they’re just shown a little TLC. For more tips on seasoning and making your ingredients sing, download our free ebook Master the Art of Seasoning.
Stay tuned for next month’s blog: One Pot Wonders – Delicious easy all-in-one nutritious meals from around the globe. If you make anything from our site be sure to upload it onto social media and tag us, we love seeing what you create!