Three easy recipes for an alternative roast dinner | Food

There are often days when I want something tasty with minimal fuss. Traybakes give me that option, not least at the moment, in the midst of moving house during a global pandemic. Oven roasting has many advantages, from concentrating the flavours in tomatoes to bringing out new ones in root vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes and creating a whole new array of textures. This week’s recipes celebrate all these wondrous gifts in one place.

Roast sausage, chickpea and autumn vegetables

Nik Sharma’s roast sausage, chickpea and autumn vegetables.

Nik Sharma’s roast sausage, chickpea and autumn vegetables.

My penchant for adding sausages to meals comes from my mother. She often sautes or chops up sausages such as Goan chorizo and adds them to pulaos and vegetables for a quick, easy way to add protein and flavour. Here, the essence of the sausages is taken on by the tomatoes, chickpeas and kale as they cook.

Prep 10 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

8 sausages (of your choice), cut into 2½cm-thick discs
450g cherry tomatoes
1 x 400g tin chickpeas
, drained
2 large carrots, peeled and diced (280g net weight)
300g chopped kale leaves, midribs removed and discarded
30ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp aleppo chilli flakes
1 tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp ground smoked sweet paprika
½ tsp ground black pepper
30g toasted salted pumpkin seeds
15ml lemon juice
½ tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp
chopped dill

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Put the sausages, tomatoes, chickpeas, carrots and kale in a large bowl, drizzle over the olive oil, then add the cumin seeds, chilli flakes, salt, paprika and black pepper and toss to coat.

Spread out the mixture in an even layer on an oven tray or roasting pan. Add 120ml water and roast for 45 minutes, until the sausages start to brown, the carrots are tender and the other vegetables are golden brown. Rotate the pan once halfway through the cooking, so everything roasts evenly. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes.

Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, add the lemon juice and zest, and the dill, and serve.

Baked aubergine with lentils, paneer and tomatoes

Nik Sharma’s baked aubergine with lentils, paneer and tomatoes.

Nik Sharma’s baked aubergine with lentils, paneer and tomatoes.

It is important to maintain an airtight seal while the lentils cook, to trap the steam as it rises, so they cook properly. Season the paneer well, because it is typically prepared and sold unsalted.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 20 min
Serves 4

100g dried brown lentils
Fine sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
450g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
226g paneer, cut into 12mm cubes
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tbsp melted ghee, or unsalted butter
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cayenne
½ tsp ground black pepper
70g breadcrumbs
2½-3 tbsp (10g)
mint leaves, to serve

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan) /350F/gas 4. Clean and rinse the lentils, then put them in an oven tray with a lip. Add 720ml boiling water and half a teaspoon of salt, stir together, then cover the tray with two layers of foil, crimping the edges to form a tight seal. Roast for 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender, then remove from the oven and turn up the heat to 210C (190C fan)/410F/gas 6½.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the aubergines. Trim and discard the tops and cut the aubergines in half lengthways. Rub the aubergine flesh with lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and set aside for 15 minutes.

Rinse the aubergines under cold running water and dab them dry with kitchen towel. In a large bowl, toss them with the tomatoes, paneer, garlic, a tablespoon of ghee and the spices and season with salt. Unwrap the foil at one end and add the vegetables and paneer to the lentils. Cover again, then bake for 25 minutes, until the aubergine is tender.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining tablespoon of melted ghee and season with salt. Remove the tray from the oven and unwrap the foil. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the vegetables, return the tray to the oven, uncovered, and cook for 15-20 minutes more, until the paneer, vegetables and breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove from the oven, leave to rest for five minutes, then garnish with the mint and serve warm.

Roast root veg with pistachio gremolata and yoghurt

Nik Sharma’s roast root veg with pistachio gremolata and yoghurt.

Nik Sharma’s roast root veg with pistachio gremolata and yoghurt. Photograph: The Guardian

My playful take on gremolata uses blanched pistachios to build on the body of this Italian condiment and comes with a good helping of garlic (if you prefer less, just halve the amount); it always tastes best the day it is made. This is a dish that you might find yourself making again and again as winter sets in.

Prep 40 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

For the vegetables
1kg mixed root vegetables, such as beetroot, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes
45ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground black pepper
Flaky sea salt

480g unsweetened plain Greek yoghurt (or vegan yoghurt, if you prefer)

For the pistachio gremolata
70g shelled unsalted pistachios
3 tbsp picked flat-leaf parsley
, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
Zest of ½ lemon

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 . Wash and peel the vegetables. Cut the rounder roots, such as the beetroot, into quarters, and chop the longer vegetables, such as the carrots, into 2½cm-thick discs. Put all the vegetables in a large bowl, add the olive oil, sesame seeds, garam masala, turmeric, black pepper and flaky salt, to taste, and toss to coat.

Spread out the mixture in an even layer on an oven tray and roast for 40-45 minutes, until the vegetables are golden brown, tender on the inside and slightly caramelised. Remove and squeeze over the lemon juice.

While the vegetables are roasting, in a medium bowl season the yoghurt with salt and whisk to combine.

For the gremolata, put the pistachios in a medium bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to sit for 30 minutes. Once the skins are soft, discard the soaking water and rub off the skins with your palms or a clean kitchen towel. Chop the pistachios, mix with the parsley, garlic and lemon juice, and transfer to a bowl.

Serve the roast vegetables with the yoghurt and gremolata alongside.

Nik Sharma is the author of Season and blogs at

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