Spring Vegetable Roast with Halloumi, Quinoa and a Minty Yogurt Dressing
A warming and cheerful dinner for a chilly spring evening. The lightly roasted, tender spring vegetables are a riot of color and flavor. The addition of halloumi cheese and quinoa make this feel like a right feast.
COMFORT • main dish • SPRING
When I’m craving comfort, security and the warmth of a good home cooked meal, what I really want is something roasted.
The sounds of the oven clicking on and off and the smells of sugar caramelizing within the depths of rooty hearts is an experience that cannot help but evoke a deep sensation of home.
And in the spring, there are days like today – drizzly and cold as all get out – when a deeper warmth is still a necessity.
But unlike winter’s roasts of intensely hearty vegetables, beaten into a yielding submission only through the long and slow application of forceful heat, the tender hearted vegetables of spring could never withstand such a trial.
Asparagus, the first sweet-as-candy baby root vegetables, green peas; they would be all but obliterated. What they call for is a gentle hand; just a quick dip into a hot oven to relax them a little and intensify their sweetness; what I like to call a flash roast.
Not to be confused with Flashdance (I’m a child of the 80s, I couldn’t help myself), flash roasting provides just enough heat to caramelize the edges of the vegetables without destroying their youthful vigor. You don’t want floppy asparagus after all. What you want is a slightly tender stalk of asparagus with a little bite to it, so that when you crunch through, a burst of intensely sweet juice sprays out over your tongue. That’s what I’m talking about.
The lightly spiced carrots, tender stalks of asparagus and green peas are topped with hunks of halloumi cheese, which might possibly be my favorite ingredient of all time. Halloumi is a curious cheese that doesn’t really melt, just goes a bit soft and gooey in the middle. It is the bacon of the vegetarian world.
The quinoa, which is finished with a steam cook, comes out light and fluffy and makes the perfect bed for your vegetables to rest upon. Drizzle the top with the minty yogurt dressing and a few sliced radishes, and you’ve got yourself a dinner that could brighten the grayest of days.
Spring vegetable roast with halloumi, quinoa and a minty yogurt dressing
Prep Time 15 min • Cook Time 10 min • Total Time 25 min
For the roasted vegetables
2 1/2 cups (300 g) baby carrots, sliced lengthways (or 4 medium carrots cut into batons)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garam masala spice mix
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz (227 g) halloumi cheese (1 package)
10.58 oz (300 g) asparagus (1 bunch)
1 cup (150 g) fresh or thawed frozen green peas
3 radishes, sliced thinly
For the quinoa
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup (170 g) quinoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) water
For the dressing
1/2 cup (100 g) Greek yogurt (or coconut yogurt)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
handful of fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the carrots with the oil, garam masala, salt and a few grinds of black pepper and place in a roasting pan or tray. Roast for 25 minutes or until almost tender when pierced with a fork.
Prep the asparagus and halloumi by removing the woody ends from your asparagus spears and slicing the halloumi into cubes about 1/2 inch in diameter.
When the 25 minutes is up on your carrots, add the asparagus and halloumi to the pan, and return it to the oven for a further 10 - 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is just tender and the halloumi is lightly golden and browned in spots (the cook time will be dictated by how fat your asparagus spears are). Add the peas to the pan for the final 5 minutes of cook time.
While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the quinoa. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the quinoa and salt, stirring well to evenly coat the grains with oil and heat until the quinoa begins to smell nutty and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 1 minute.
Add the water and simmer with the lid off over low heat until all the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat, replace the lid, and set aside for 5 minutes to allow the quinoa to steam. This will ensure the quinoa is light and fluffy.
Finally, make your dressing by combining all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. It may seem at first as if the water amount is too high, but trust me, as you continue to mix, it will absorb and the dressing will end up a perfect level of liquidness. Check for seasonings and add more salt or lemon if you desire.
To serve, make a bed of quinoa on your plate. Top the quinoa with a generous serving of the vegetables, making sure there is a nice ratio of asparagus to carrot and a good amount of cheese and peas. Garnish with a few fresh radish slices and top with a drizzle or two of the dressing.
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