Love Leftovers

Leftovers get a bad rap – quite unjustifiably IMHO. Sometimes I make too much of Something just so I have enough to make Something Else, which quite possibly turns out to be even more wonderful than the original. Take roast(ed) [when did we all start saying roasted, not roast?] vegetables. At Christmas I roast-ed a huge pan of parsnips, carrots and butternut, all grown by my fair(ish) hand, and of course I made a few too many. Separately my daughter had done stir-fried sprouts with loadsa garlic à la Ottolenghi, which also yielded its own surplus. A couple of nights earlier there’d been Basmati (with toasted coconut, mmm, a Colombian recipe from my soon-to-be daughter-in-law), and there was a pleasing mound of that left over too. The whole lot – plus some pomegranate seeds and coriander/cilantro which were conveniently lurking in the fridge, and a tahini dressing – went to make up this gorgeous dish. Inspired by a recipe from the London restaurant Honey & Co., it offers a uniquely delish mix of crunchy, soft, roasted, sweet and sour elements. You can serve it cold, as a vegetable salad, or you can reheat the rice and vegetables (oven or microwave) without the tahini dressing, then pour the cool dressing over the warm vegetables.

If you should ever be blessed with an embarras of vegetables and a bowl of rice, press them into service for this great dish. However, since the recipe is so frabjously joyful, it would be a great shame to restrict it to accommodating leftovers: instead (and this is how I’ve written the recipe) just roast the vegetables from scratch, cook the rice and put the two together with all the trimmings. Just be sure to choose firm vegetables (butternut, parsnips, carrots, kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, aubergines etc.), so they don’t dissolve to a mush.

Serves 6

1 clove garlic, mashed
75g tahini
2 spring onions or 1 shallot, finely chopped
½ fresh green chile (peperoncino), deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar
1 ½ tbsp honey or pomegranate molasses
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper

About 1.2kg mixed vegetables (butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, aubergines etc.)
4 tbsp olive oil

250g Basmati or other perfumed rice
A pinch of cinnamon

100g dried cranberries
Seeds from half a pomegranate
Small bunch of chives, chopped
Plenty of flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped

  • For the dressing, put the garlic, tahini, spring onions or shallot, chopped chile, soy sauce, vinegar, honey/pomegranate molasses, lime juice and salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and blend or process till smooth. Add enough water to give a pouring consistency. Set aside.
  • Heat the oven to 220 C.
  • Place the prepared vegetables in a roasting pan or tray lined with non-stick paper, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.
  • While vegetables are roasting, place the rice with 500ml cold water in a medium sized saucepan, add 1 teaspoon of salt and a good pinch of cinnamon and bring to a boil. Place a folded teatowel over the pan, cover with the lid, reduce the heat to an absolute minimum (or turn it off if you’re cooking on glass ceramic and leave pan on the turned-off hob) and leave for 20 minutes without disturbing. Uncover the pan, fork up the rice to see if the water is all absorbed and the rice tender – if not, give it a few more minutes on medium heat.
  • Tip the rice into a large serving dish, stir in the cranberries, most of the pomegranate seeds (keep some for the garnish) and the chives. Mix gently to combine.
  • Arrange the vegetables on top, drizzle the dressing over and scatter with parsley or cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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