If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, the key to eating happily and well on a 5-2 fast day is to eat seasonally, loading up your plate with as much bright and vibrant, bursting with flavour produce as you can. Here is another “accidental” 5-2 offering thrown together for a family Sunday lunch. Inspired by a cross between my roasted chipolata sausage tray bake (something of an institution in our family – served regularly either as a lazy Sunday night dinner option or to use up any leftover vegetables lingering in the crisper of our fridge before a major restock) and a warm roasted root vegetable salad on offer at one of my favourite seaside cafes Three Blue Ducks.
I love the idea of this salad. It takes a blank canvas of a medley of roasted whole root vegetables, providing layer upon layer of flavour with a clever use of herbs and spices. Very little is wasted. The carrot tops and beetroot leaves are saved and stripped from their stalks to be used in two delicious and fresh tasting pestos. I’m amazed at how using exactly the same process and varying just one ingredient – the carrot tops or beet greens the result can be so deliciously different in terms of colour, texture and flavour.
If truth be told, I had originally planned to serve this salad as a side for a little grilled chicken. I prepared my tray of root vegetables, popped them in the oven, promptly transformed the “greens” into pesto, and as so often happens became distracted. By the time I added cherry tomatoes and long green onions to the tray for the final 10 minutes of roasting, I decided to forgo the chicken, opting to pair my gorgeously rustic salad with a loaf of seeded sourdough bread.
Brought to the table it was met with a chorus of “Is this another of those 5-2 fast day meals?”. Well perhaps not so politely.
Why is it chez nous that a meatless meal is so often perceived to be a fast day offering? I can attest that no-one at the table went hungry. To prove the point, look at all that remained of my enormous tray of my warm winter roasted root vegetable salad – enthusiastically devoured by a family of five for Sunday lunch.
Interestingly, calorie counted out this salad easily met the fast day brief. A huge plateful judiciously dolloped with a little of each of the pesto sauces came in at a surprisingly low 250 calories per serve. Rustic, delicious and filling, it’s an easy crowd pleaser. Just make sure it’s served with plenty of fresh sourdough bread and extra pesto on on the side for those feasting not fasting.
Warm Winter Roasted Root Vegetable Salad With ‘Greens’ Pesto
Serves 6 generously (250 calories per serve)
600g baby beetroots, scrubbed and quartered – keep beet leaves to make pesto (258 calories)
1 bunch (300g) Dutch baby carrots scrubbed – keep carrot tops to make pesto (106 calories)
500g butternut pumpkin, skin on, seeded and cut into wedges (130 calories)
2 medium(200g) parsnips, scrubbed and cut into 6 wedges each (150 calories)
2 red capsicum, seeded and sliced into 6 wedges each (60 calories)
3 medium red onions, peeled and cut into 6 wedges each (138 calories)
1 garlic bulb, unpeeled cloves separated (32 calories)
2 long red chillies, roughly chopped, seeds and all (36 calories)
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped from stems and roughly chopped (6 calories)
a dozen small sprigs thyme, leaves stripped from stems (6 calories)
2 tablespoons olive oil (240 calories)
2 tablespoons paprika (36 calories)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 punnet cherry tomatoes (54 calories)
4 long green spring onions, cut into 4cm lengths (40 calories)
3 tablespoons carrot greens pesto(recipe follows) (103 calories)
3 tablespoons beet greens pesto(recipe follows) (103 calories)
PREHEAT oven to 190 C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.
PLACE prepared beetroot, carrots, pumpkin, parsnips, capsicum, red onions, garlic, chilli, rosemary and thyme onto the baking paper lined tray.
SPRINKLE over paprika, a couple of generous pinches of sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Drizzle over olive oil. Toss gently to lightly coat all the vegetables.
PLACE baking tray in preheated oven and roast for 20-25 minutes.
REMOVE tray from oven, scatter cherry tomatoes and spring onions evenly over the tray. Return to oven and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are blistered and spring onions soft.
TO SERVE, squeeze roasted garlic from its skin and dollop over 3 tablespoons each of carrot and beet greens pesto.
For the Carrot or Beet Greens Pesto
Makes a generous cup or 16 tablespoons (34 calories per tablespoon)
1 ½ cups lightly packed carrot or beet greens, picked from the stem (33 calories)
1 large garlic clove (4 calories)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (116 calories)
zest and juice of ½ lemon (6 calories)
3 tablespoons olive oil (360 calories)
1/3 cup (35g) freshly grated parmesan (144 calories)
a generous pinch of sea salt and good grinding of pepper
PULSE garlic and pine nuts in a food processor until a coarse paste forms.
ADD greens, lemon zest and juice, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Process until you have a chunky pesto. Adjust consistency using a little water, if necessary.
STIR through parmesan cheese and season with sea salt and pepper.
STORE in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze in small ziplock bags as needed.