I always look forward to my organic vegetable box arriving every Thursday night. Apart from the joy of getting the super fresh vegetables from the local farm on your doorstep, I also love the surprise of opening the box and unwrapping the brown paper bags to discover what little treasures I receive this week. Multi-coloured peppers, orange and red of tiny cherry tomatoes, bursting skins of red onions, bright green of parsley, freshness of vibrant mint, deep purple aubergines…. – all these colours and smells are such pleasures for your senses.
If I want to make the most of my treasure chest and prepare for the week ahead – so that I always have a delicious hearty salad in my fridge whether it is for lunchboxes or quick mid-week dinners – I dedicate a few hours on Sunday night to make this gorgeous roasted vegetable salad. And the best thing about it – you can vary what goes in it depending on what you have on hand. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time (and order in which the veg go into the oven) accordingly.
1 large yellow and 1 large red sweet pepper – sliced into wedges
1 large red onion – peeled and sliced into large wedges (cut in half and then each half into 3-4 wedges)
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
2-3 eggplants or courgettes (or a mixture if both) – sliced into thin long slices
50g feta cheese – crumbled
A teaspoon of capers (if using large ones, roughly chop)
A large bunch of mint and parsley – roughly sliced
Half a cup of quinoa – cooked (half a cup of quinoa + 1 cup of water, cook around 15mins on low heat without stirring. When the water is absorbed, turn the heat off, cover and let it sit for 5 mins before fluffing up with a fork)
Good quality peppery olive oil to serve
Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the peppers and onions into the roasting dish and toss with some extra virgin olive oil and a dusting of pink Himalayan salt. Roast for 30 mins before adding the cherry tomatoes (keep them whole). Continue roasting for another 15-20 mins until the tomato skins have split.
In the meantime, preheat the griddle pan to high. Lightly rub eggplant slices with olive oil and griddle them in one layer until their surface is covered with beautiful charred stripes. You will need to do this in a few batches but the smokiness that they add to the final dish is totally worth this step.
When the eggplant slices have cooled down a little, slice them into large chunks. Take the vegetables out of the oven and stir in the eggplant slices, your best quality olive oil, cooked quinoa, capers, mint and parsley and stir. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.
The salad can be enjoyed warm or cold and will last in the fridge for 3-4 days (in our house though it never does).
On the cold winter days when the green leafy salad just won’t do, this hearty vegetable medley hits just the spot. Have it on its own with a side of hummus or baba ghanoush; or as an accompaniment to white fish or roast chicken.