I went to visit a friend and her 3 week old baby yesterday (totally broody again!), and there was only one thing I could make to take over, and that was roasted veg and amaranth surprise. It's called a surprise because the ingredients will change every time you make it... surpriiiise!! In fact sometimes it's actually roasted veg and quinoa surprise, or roasted veg and brown rice surprise, or roasted veg and lentil surprise. You get the point :)
As someone who had a baby 6 months ago, I know how tough it is to find the time, energy and mental capacity to make lunch for yourself, let alone for the hoards of visitors you get! This dish is perfect for a hungry mum, a group of cooing friends, and even the in laws who you feel you must impress as you're setting the stage for how you will bring up their precious grandchild ;)
So why do I love this dish so much?
- It's PACKED with nutrients. Just 1 cup of uncooked amaranth has 31% of your daily recommended amount of calcium, 14% of vitamin C, and a whopping 82% of iron! Amaranth is also a complete protein as it contains good amounts of lysine, the missing amino acid from so many other grains, making it perfect for new mums who need lots of energy
- It is SO easy to put together as you can literally shove any veg you have into the oven, even the ones you've been meaning to throw away for ages but haven't gotten round to because you might use them tomorrow (you know the ones I mean)
- You can make a big batch in one go and keep dipping into it throughout the week (just what you need when you haven't had time to brush your teeth today!)
- It tastes deeeeelicious
- And perhaps most importantly, a dollop of humous goes perfectly with this dish which makes it a winner in my book (I LOOOOOVE humous!)
Roasted Veg and Amaranth Surprise
- 200g amaranth or quinoa
- 500ml vegetable stock (I use Marigold reduced salt swiss bouillon)
- 1-2 sweet potatoes
- 3-4 parsnips
- 3-4 beetroots
- 2 red peppers
- 2 courgettes
- 1 whole bulb garlic
- 2 tbsp oil (I use rapeseed for almost everything)
- 2 tsp dried mixed herbs (I used herbs de provence)
- 1tsp smoked paprika
- Handful of seeds of your choice (I used pumpkin and sunflower)
- A dollop of humous (home made is super easy, but we won't look down on you if you use shop bought - I did!)
- 1 can of your favourite or mixed beans (I didn't use this on this particular occasion, but I usually do and would highly recommend it. Beans add even more protein, another texture, great flavour and more bulk so the whole meal lasts longer)
- Optional toppings: Grilled chicken, bacon, feta, red onion, cherry tomatoes... etc. I love this vegan stylee (no meat or dairy), but you can add ANYTHING to this to make it your own.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 for fan oven)
- Thoroughly rinse and drain the amaranth (or quinoa if using). Amaranth is tricky to do this with because it's such a fine grain, and my sieve doesn't hold it - I found out the hard way! - but do the best you can. Put it in a saucepan with 500ml stock, bring it to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 30-35 minutes or until cooked. About 20 minutes in give it a quick stir to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan!
- Chop all of your veg (apart from the garlic) however you like it. We're weaning Jasper at the moment so I tend to do everything in stick shapes so he can hold them!
- Split the veg between two trays - the hardier veg going on one, the softer veg and garlic going o n the other. You can of course just use one tray if you're not using that much veg.
- Pour the oil and herbs over the veg on both trays, then mix it all together to make sure all the veg is coated
- Place the tray of hardier veg on the top shelf and bake for 10-15 minutes before adding the softer veg tray on a lower shelf and bake for a further 20-30 minutes until all the veg is cooked to your liking. It's pretty tough to over cook roasted veg so don't worry if your timings are a bit off.
- When the amaranth is cooked, tip it into a tupperware container, then top with the veg when done, the garlic (simply use the flat side of a large knife to squeeze the gooey middle bit out - yum!), seeds and any other toppings you're adding
- Serve straight away with a large dollop of humous, or leave it to cool and store in the fridge for a few days' worth of meals
I really do love this dish because it is SO versatile! Every time you make it it's different so you never get bored, and it's a great way to use up your left over veg so nothing goes to waste.
Why not try other toppings such as wild alaskan salmon, sweet corn, sun dried tomatoes or blue cheese... the options are endless!
Let me know in the comments what you try :)