Spring Oven Roasted Vegetables

I have these phases where I can’t even decide what I want to eat, let alone what I should shop for and cook.  I’m right in the middle of such a phase right now – or I was until earlier this week.  If I were to catch myself in a mood like that in winter, I’d make oven roasted vegetables, consisting of potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and parsley roots, roasted with some olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, crushed garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs.  But that had too wintery a feel for me, so I decided to “spring-ify” it.  I went shopping and bought a few vegetables but left the seasoning up to what I would find in my kitchen cupboards.

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And so I ended up with potatoes, fennel bulbs, green and white asparagus – I love asparagus season, so you’ll be reading more about it here soon – and pears.  Yep, I went through the veg and fruit section in the supermarket looking for a touch of green to add to the mix, and suddenly had a vision of pears among the almost all pale white vegetables I had chosen.

As for the seasoning, I used olive oil, Himalaya salt – not just lovely for its pink colour, but also for its taste, I can’t really describe it, all I can say is it’s different and I use it a lot – cumin seeds, and sumak (dried grape powder, if you’re not familiar with that one).  To add sumak was a great idea.  It adds a bit of a tart flavour, even though it’s mild, and it went surprisingly well with the pink salt and the cumin.

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A note on the quantities given below: they’re just for a little orientation.    I used a 20 x 30 cm baking tray and basically filled it with as many potatoes as I had – because I was really hungry – and sort of just packed as much of the other stuff onto the baking tray as would fit.  We currently get these cute little potatoes here (they’re called Drilling which means triplet), some of them no larger than a walnut, so don’t be alarmed when you see the quantity I used!

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Spring Oven Roasted Vegetables

30 very small potatoes
1 fennel bulb
4 stalks each green + white asparagus
1 pear
1 tbsp olive oil
Himalaya salt
2 – 3 tsp cumin seeds
2 – 3 tsp sumak

Peel the asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces, and cook in boiling salt water for 5 minutes, drain, and set aside.

Cut up (unpeeled) potatoes, fennel and pear any which way you like, place on a baking tray, season with the olive oil, salt, cumin and sumak.  Stir the seasonings through the veg, making sure everything is covered in both oil and the spices.

Roast at 200°C (fan), at a lower level, for 20 minutes.  Take out of the oven, add the asparagus pieces, and stir thoroughly to make sure everything gets evenly browned.  Bake for another 15 minutes.

When I make the winter version of this, I usually end up eating half of it as it is, and the second half I’ll have with some hot dipping sauce or curry ketchup.  I had already set these out for the spring version, but in the end I liked the taste of it so much that I wanted to savour it “au naturel”.

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