Roasted Vegetables & Grain

Roasted vegetables + grain = a balanced, tasty meal.
Roasted vegetables + grain = a balanced, tasty meal.

This is one of the first dishes I started experimenting with when I became interested in VB6. Roasting is one of the easiest (and tastiest!) ways to prepare vegetables. Toss them with some interesting seasonings and a whole grain, and you’ve got a tasty vegan lunch or dinner.

I always include onions and garlic when I roast vegetables for this dish, but almost everything else differs. This time I used butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, but just about any vegetable works. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, turnips, parsnips…use your imagination! I sometimes even toss in a drained can of chickpeas for extra protein and added texture. You can change up the seasonings to suit the vegetable mix. I always use olive oil and something acidic like balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, plus salt, pepper and sometimes an herb or two.

I also like to vary the grains. Roasted veggies pair well with earthy things like quinoa and brown rice. Tonight I used pearled barley–I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s comparable to brown rice or quinoa nutritionally, and has almost as much protein as quinoa. With all the different possibilities this formula presents, it’s hard to get bored.

Roasted Vegetables & Grain

Serves about 5

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced into wedges
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and/or coarsely chopped
  • Assorted vegetables, for example:
    • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1 bag of Brussels sprouts, cut in half
    • 1/2 a head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or as needed
  • 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (you can substitute another kind of vinegar, lemon juice or another acidic ingredient)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • dried herbs such as basil, thyme or sage
  • 1 cup dry barley, brown rice, quinoa or other grain (about 4 servings), prepared according to package instructions

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables and place them into a large bowl. Cut harder vegetables into smaller pieces and leave softer ones in larger chunks. For the vegetables listed above:
  2. Slice the onion into wedges.

    Slice the onion into wedges. While you don't necessarily need to include the onion in this dish, I always have them on hand so they're usually part of the mix.
    Slice the onion into wedges. While you don’t necessarily need to include the onion in this dish, I always have them on hand so they’re usually part of the mix.
  3. Smash the garlic cloves and remove the skins; chop them roughly.

    Smash the garlic cloves and remove the skins. Give them a rough chop if they're large like this one.
    Smash the garlic cloves with the flat of a large knife and remove the skins. Give them a rough chop if they’re large like this one.
  4. Cut the butternut squash in half above the bulbous bottom. Slice the bottom in half; scoop out and discard the seeds. Peel the squash carefully with a sharp paring knife and discard the skin. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes.
    Cut the squash just above the rounded bottom.
    Cut the squash just above the rounded bottom.
    Cut the bottom in half and remove the seeds.
    Cut the bottom in half and remove the seeds.
    Remove the skin of the squash carefully, using a sharp paring knife.
    Remove the skin of the squash carefully, using a sharp paring knife.

    Cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes. It's fine if they are not exact!
    Cut the squash into 1/2-inch cubes. It’s fine if they are not exact!
  5. Remove the loose outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts and slice them in half.

    Remove the loose outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts and discard any sprouts that seem past their prime. Slice them right in half.
    Remove the loose outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts and discard any sprouts that seem past their prime. Slice them right in half.
  6. Cut the cauliflower into florets.

    This mix almost filled my 4-quart Pyrex bowl. I had more cauliflower, but decided to save the other half for another day!
    This mix almost filled my 4-quart Pyrex bowl. I had more cauliflower, but decided to save the other half for another day!
  7. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and vinegar. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Add dried herbs to taste, if desired. Toss everything together and spread the vegetables in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets.

    Toss the vegetables with the oil, vinegar and seasonings.
    Toss the vegetables with the oil, vinegar and seasonings.
  8. Roast the vegetables for 30-45 minutes until they are tender and caramelized in places. Stir the vegetables and rotate the pans every 10-15 minutes throughout. Drizzle with more olive oil if the vegetables seem dry.
    Here's how the vegetables looked after about 20 minutes.
    Here’s how the vegetables looked after about 20 minutes.

    The vegetables are done when they are soft and browned in places, like this.
    The vegetables are done when they are soft and browned in places, like this.
  9. Meanwhile, prepare the grain.
  10. Serve the vegetables over the grain, or mix it all together.

    Dish up the grain and vegetables in a bowl and enjoy!
    Dish up the grain and vegetables in a bowl and enjoy!

This recipe is really more of a method, so it’s incredibly easy to change it up based on whatever you have in your fridge, or scale it up or down as needed.

Here are some other flavor combinations to try:

  • Use lemon juice rather than vinegar and season with cumin and paprika; include chickpeas in the mix and/or drizzle the finished dish with tahini. Cauliflower works great here!
  • Use a combination of zucchini, summer squash, eggplant and/or bell pepper, toss with balsamic or red wine vinegar, and season with basil and oregano. Top with Parmesan or feta for a non-vegan variation.
  • Use a mix of root vegetables–parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.–and/or winter squash and season with sage and thyme.

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