The clocks have changed so the evenings are suddenly getting much lighter, and everything is lush, green and full of sunshine once again. Also, I find myself no longer craving heavy, comforting bowlfuls: I can declare that fresh, light and bright season eating is officially back, and I for one couldn't be happier. So, to celebrate my craving for all things Spring, seasonal and green I've thrown together a great roasted Spring vegetable and chickpea bowl that is perfectly filling and wholesome for either lunch or dinner.
At this time of year, where it is warm in the sunshine but the wind is still crisp and cold, you want something with a bit of depth, hence the chickpea rather than lettuce base, and the pre-roasting of the vegetables. Roasting radishes is something I've got into quite recently after discovering recipes for them in two of my more recent cookbook acquisitions, Nigella Lawson's Simply Nigella and Anna Jones' A Modern Way To Eat. I'm still working on a stand out recipe to serve them by themselves, but here roasting makes them sweet, tender, still slightly crunchy and colours them with the most delicate of the bright pink hues, adding life to the bowl. I've ribboned (using a vegetable peeler) my asparagus here as it was from the supermarket and grown in Brazil, but if you've got your hands on local, English asparagus don't you dare; just snap off the tough bottoms, halve them, and throw the spears in to roast whole at the same time as the radishes and spring onions. As for the courgette, it's not just in the bowl to create pretty, rosette like ribbons (though, that certainly helps!) Cooked, but not yet browned courgette ribbons absorb flavour (anyone who has ever tried to fry courgette will know that, like aubergine, it will absorb anything), which means they'll take on the rich, peppery olive oil, the umami from the sea salt and the freshness from the lemon juice to create great bursts of flavour. I find half a courgette here is enough for me; use the leftovers to make another Spring dinner time favourite of mine, Pasta with Courgette, Chilli and Lemon.
- 8 Radishes
- 3 Spring Onions (Salad Onions)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea Salt (I use Fleur de Sel from Brittany)
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 3 Asparagus Spears
- 1/2 Medium Courgette (Zucchini)
- 1 x 400g Tin Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
- Small Handful Flat Leaf Parsley
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Rice Vinegar
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Top, tail and half the radishes, and top, tail and divide the spring onions into three sections each. In a roasting tin, toss the radishes and the spring onions with a glug of olive oil, and a generous seasoning of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, use a vegetable peeler to cut the asparagus and courgette into ribbons. Roughly chop the parsley, and drain the chickpeas. Once the radishes and spring onions have roasted a little, toss them around the tray together with the courgette and asparagus ribbons. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, and add the chickpeas, parsley, a splash more oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a dash of rice vinegar and more seasoning. Toss everything together, and add more lemon, vinegar or seasoning before serving if you think it needs it.
On an equipment related note, I picked up this pretty blue and white patterned, slightly smaller than average pasta bowl in Sainsbury's for £4 this morning while I was in there grabbing mackerel fillets (their fresh fish selection is actually better than any other supermarket I find). Usually I pick crockery off of my props shelf so I don't get the chance to point you in the direction of where to find something if it takes your fancy, so I thought I'd flag this one for you all!