10 October 2014

Hot and Sweet Roasted Mediterranean Veg ... IHCC

For the next six months, the I Heart Cooking Club will be concentrating efforts and investigations on Diana Henry, an Irish food writer and cook with a wonderfully eclectic body of work. For this first week of celebration, we were to choose any old recipe that struck the fancy.

Well, the options were wide open, as Diana Henry has put out cook books on preserved goods, simple home cooking, healthy foods that seem far more decadent than they are, gastropub fare that makes it to the finest of pub menus, deadly baked goods, etc, etc, but ...

I chose to make a healthy platter of vegetables that celebrate the last of the summer zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. This is a dish that reminds one of northern  Africa. It has a sweet component comprised of brown sugar and cinnamon, a hot and spicy element that showcases harissa, black pepper,and cumin, and the distinctive tang of balsamic vinegar. This slurry of spices and flavours gets a toss with the chunked vegetables and a hot roast in the oven. The kitchen fills with the spice smells and one can hardly wait until the flatbreads are warm and the couscous has absorbed the stock and essence from parsley and lemon slices.

The tahini dressing served well for slathering over bites of vegetables, but also as a dipping option for the swaths of flatbread that SB and I dragged through the juices and gobbled with the vegetables. One would almost think that the couscous was superfluous, but no. The couscous is a soft cooling element for the palate when the spiciness of the vegetables and tanginess of the tahini dressing becomes enough to make one's eyes tear and sinuses tingle.

God, what a meal! And ... so easy! I'll admit. I made the flatbreads the other evening for another vegetarian meal that SB and I knoshed. No time freak-out there. The vegetable roast is nothing more than slice and dice and tossing with some spices. Into the oven and stir together the tahini dressing ... let the garlic, lemon, and salt and pepper work on the wet ingredients while the couscous gets dumped into hot stock. That's it! Really!

I spent my wait time setting the table, toasting pine nuts, chopping parsley and cilantro and sipping a cocktail made with creme de cassis and seltzer water (with a twist of lemon).

It IS Friday, after all ... and I'm sure Diana would approve of kicking back a bit while the food and the oven do the magic!

So, here's to Diana Henry and the next six months of cooking with the folks in the IHCC! Come on along for the ride, if you're of a mind ... check out the link and the particulars of the weekly posts.

In the meantime, here's the recipe for this vegetable supper. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Hot and Sweet Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Tahini Dressing
a Diana Henry recipe


3 small zucchini, cut into ½-inch thick coins
2 eggplants, cut into ½-inch thick half moons
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and deveined, cut into strips
1 purple onion, peeled, cut in half length-wise and cut into half moon strips
6 tomatoes, cut into wedges
¼ c. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 heaping tsp. harissa or hot chili garlic sauce
Kosher salt and black pepper
⅓ c. golden raisins, soaked in very hot water
¼ c. pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped


⅔ c. Greek plain yogurt
⅔ c. tahini paste
Juice of two lemons
¼ c. warm water
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper, plenty of it, to taste

  1. Pre heat the oven to 375° F. Spray a large roasting pan with pan spray.
  2. Toss the prepped vegetables with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cumin, cinnamon, brown sugar, and harissa, making sure to coat all the veg.
  3. Arrange in a single layer on the roasting pan and roast uncovered in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  4. While the veg roasts, mix all the tahini dressing ingredients until smooth and set dressing aside to let the garlic and lemon penetrate the sauce.
  5. Chop the cilantro and toast the pine nuts. Place the raisins in a bowl of very hot water to swell up a bit.
  6. When the vegetables have roasted for 25 minutes, toss them with the drained raisins.
  7. Return them to the oven for 10-15 more minutes.
  8. While the vegetables finish in the oven, wrap and warm up flatbread, if you have it.
  9. Make a couscous with chicken stock, couscous, some chopped parsley, and lemon slices.
  10. Arrange the roasted vegetables on a large platter. Drizzle a bit of the dressing over top, sprinkle on the toasted pine nuts and chopped cilantro and serve with extra dressing for dipping vegetables and bread in. Have some couscous on the side for cooling the palate


  1. I wish this was my dinner tonight! I am getting so hungry!

  2. What feast! Gorgeous! Diana Henry is new to me, but judging from the 2 books I picked up (which are vastly different from each other), I think it's going to be a fun and adventurous 6 months.

  3. thank you and I am bookmarking this.

  4. This is a meal for my palate, thanks for picking. There a still zucchinis and aubergines on the weekly market here.

  5. This looks utterly sublime, Susan - this would have me swooning over every single, flavour-laden mounthful. I'm definitely bookmarking this one for late summer when all those vegetables are plentiful. I think we're in for a great six months with Diana.

  6. Wow, what a beautiful dish! I like everything including the flatbread! Looks really good and this is a meal that I would enjoy very much!
    Diana Henry is new to me too, and I can see that the next six months is gonna be a really delicious one!

  7. Hi Susan! Wow, I love the colors!

  8. Oh yes--I would happily eat this (and lick the tahini sauce from the plate!) ;-) Definitely my kind of meal and a great way to welcome Diana Henry to IHCC.

  9. I absolutely adore the colours of the vegetables on the plate!! Not to mention that the flatbread goes so well with the vegetables. I'm sure it was a feast!

  10. Our garden has wound down now. Good thing all of these are available in te markets. I love roasted veggies.


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