I used to know a woman from North Africa, who whenever I asked about her weekend, used to say, “Child, I have henna on my hands and halwa at home, I can’t complain”, then would launch into tales of a joyous wedding or celebration she attended.
I found myself this weekend wedged in a cramped aisle at a small Middle Eastern store. I was picking up halva for this walnut and halva cake I want to make. In that moment, with my hands stained with henna (from dyeing my hair), I too conceded that there wasn’t much to complain about on this particular weekend, even if I wasn’t at some celebration.
We lucked out with gorgeous weather over the weekend; this was great because we got to spend an afternoon exploring charming Ladner Village. On our way back into the city, we stopped by the market in Richmond to get our produce for the week. Have I mentioned how much I relish going that market? How can you not love a market full of bountiful seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, a farm with baby goats and sheep, and bunnies and chickens that just wander about?
I always end up buying more produce than intended, but that’s fine since it’s good for making impromptu meals like this pasta with roasted spring vegetables. Over the course of spring, occasionally when we find ourselves with too much produce (what a problem to have!), we roast veggies and toss them with whatever else we have around.
Legumes like chickpeas and black beans make excellent accompaniment to roasted vegetables, it transforms it into a rich satisfying meal and of course, adds protein. Whole grains are great too; rice, quinoa or farro adds bulk and a delicious depth of flavour. And the great part is, this is all so relatively easy to put together.
Pasta is easy too. For this one, I basically roast a ton of seasonal vegetables – sweet earthy beets, peppery radish, tender caramelized fennel and red onions – with a little olive oil and spices, and then toss it with pasta and some pesto.
It helps if like me, you often have pesto in the fridge. I reckon some tapenade would be splendid here too, or just a squeeze lemon and a splash of olive oil and some flaked salt, if you want to keep things really simple. I love roasted veggies and pasta tossed with this sun-dried tomato pesto.
This is our new mid-week to end-of-the-week night staple, it’s no fuss yet delicious and so wonderfully filling.
- 1 1/2 cups tri-color fusilli or rotini (or similar type pasta)
- 1 large beet, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
- 5 – 6 small radishes, scrubbed, trimmed and halved
- 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise and chopped into large chunks
- 1 large red onion, chopped into large chunks
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (or dried herb mix of oregano, thyme and rosemary)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons kosher sea salt, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- A few tablespoons of pesto, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta following package instructions, stir the boiling pot a few times to prevent pasta from sticking together; then drain and set aside when it is done
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F., and oil a large aluminum foil lined rimmed baking sheet
- Combine beet, radish, fennel and onion in a large bowl
- Sprinkle minced garlic, herbes de Provence, pepper flakes and salt over vegetables and toss to combine
- Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and toss until evenly coated, check seasoning
- Spread vegetables evenly on the prepared baking sheet
- Roast for 30 – 35 minutes, turning vegetables halfway through to get it all tender and slightly crisped, with beets cooked through
- Remove from oven, toss with pasta and mix in a few spoonfuls of pesto
- Serve with freshly ground black pepper