Want to eat more veg but don’t have time for fancy recipes? Chef Rukmini Iyer shares her deliciously simple one-dish ideas that virtually cook themselves (and they’re vegetarian).
A quarter of UK meals nowadays don’t contain any meat or fish and with a revolutionary surge of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, we’re now spoilt for choice when it comes to achievable plant-based recipes.
So whether you’re time-poor, want to increase your veg count, or both – chef and author of The Green Roasting Tin shares her advice for quick and easy dinners, including two show-stopping recipes to try this week.
Why are we eating more veg and less meat?
“I think it ranges from concerns over animal welfare to sustainability. A growing number of people are still meat-eaters but simply eat less of it. We’re also more concerned about higher quality, free-range options. Either way, having more veg in your diet is healthier, cheaper and better for the planet.”
What was the food of your childhood?
“A mix of English classics and Indian food – my mum made (and still makes on every visit) a great pilau rice with cashew nuts, cardamom and bay leaves. Her chickpea curry was also brilliant. There was also a good amount of cake – pineapple upside-down cake and butterfly cakes were my favourites. I’m sure there were a few potato waffles in there, too.”
Why do you love one-dishes and tray bakes?
“Weeknight cooking rarely affords the time for lots of dishes and ingredients. Roasting in one tray means dishes are packed with flavour, colour and texture. Some of my dishes take a little longer in the oven, but they’re just as low-effort, leaving you time to go about your evening until dinner’s ready.”
What are some easy ways to ramp up the flavour in a tray bake?
“Start by adding a good pinch of sea salt to your veg as that’ll really enhance the flavour. Then spice-wise, I love spice mixes like ras el hanout, or try a couple of teaspoons of ground cumin and smoked paprika. Always dress the veg afterwards with something acidic – a dressing made with oil, lemon, lime or vinegar and fresh herbs will add another layer of flavour.
What are your top tips for a perfect tray bake?
“Definitely don’t overcrowd your vegetables or they’ll steam and go soggy rather than roast. Use a decent-sized tin to give your veg room. And leave the tin to soak in hot soapy water for an hour before trying to wash it up!”
Feeling inspired? Try Rukmini’s favourite one-dish veggie recipes…
This is a beautiful vegetarian dish and it tastes as good as it looks. Serve with Greek yogurt and some couscous on the side.
This vegan dish will serve two people generously, but you can easily double this up as part of a veggie feast and even bring the vegetables to the table whole before ‘carving’ and dressing them.
Photography: David Loftus
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