Thursday, 30 April 2020

It's Roasting Tin Appreciation Day! My Top 10 Favourite Recipes

Today is the launch of the fourth book in the Roasting Tin series - Roasting Tin Around the World!

I am so excited for this book, which I have a feeling will be my new favourite.

I don't think these books need any introduction, but in case they do, Rukmini Iyer started a revolution with her first book, The Roasting Tin, in 2017.

The premise was simple - 75 recipes that you could chuck in the oven and forget about.

And in our time-pressed times, we loved it.

My review of the first Roasting Tin book is here. When I got the first book, we were living with my parents just before we moved into our house and I was suffering with a knee injury and couldn't run. My overriding memory of this time is how I would put a roasting tin meal in the oven and go for a walk in the park while it cooked. I loved that I could just leave it to it, get some fresh air and enjoy a walk after work. 

The book also helped me to override my endless fear of "getting it wrong". I can be a slave to recipes at times, even though I know I'm a good cook on my own. The Roasting Tin helped me to make substitutions easily, I felt empowered to change things up and reassured that nothing would go horribly wrong.

edit: It's funny - as I was writing this post I realised that the images in the review of the "OG Roasting Tin" or "The Yellow Book" had broken links and weren't working, so I had to go through and update them, and it made me realise how many recipes I love from the first book. I don't reach for it anywhere near as often as the other two, but rereading the blog post reminded me how much I love the butternut squash and feta bulghur, and the mushrooms with halloumi and the cauliflower and potato curry.

The first Roasting Tin taught me to be brave. It taught me to try new things. It taught me that I could chuck a few things in a tin and pop it in the oven with plenty of spices and no matter what, it would be delicious.

And then came The Green Roasting Tin.

I knew I was going to love Green. Green is all vegetarian and half vegan. I could eat every single recipe in this book! (My review is here)

Not only was The Green Roasting Tin amazing for me as a vegetarian, it also improved on so many things from the first book. One of my small issues with the first book was not being clear what was a complete meal and what needed a side dish or some bread or salad. This is one of the first things Rukmini addresses in Green, with a whole double spread on how to cook side dishes, and throughout the book she recommends accompaniments.

I also love the infographic "formulas" in this book which like the original, really encourage you to take inspiration and find your own creation.

To this day, Green is by far my favourite. Since I wrote my review back in August 2018, I've made at least 10 new recipes from the book, and I still have a huge list of recipes I want to try. Of my top 10 favourite recipes in this list, 8 are from Green.

(I am actually planning a Roasting Tin Revisited blog at some point in the next few months where I'll review "new" recipes from each of the books I've made since my posts).

Green is probably my desert island cookbook and it's one of the books I reach for the most on my shelf. It took was amazing about the original and made it even better.

One of my favourite recipes from The Green Roasting Tin is the dal (it might be my favourite recipe of all the Roasting Tin books), but it takes, in total, about an hour and half once you've peeled all of those pesky, but delicious, shallots. Which means I don't cook it quite as much as I should. Some of my other favourites also have long cook times, which isn't always what you want after a long day at work.

Enter, The Quick Roasting Tin!

The Quick Roasting Tin came out in 2019, and I reviewed it here.

Honestly, I wasn't sure at first you know! Vegetables take a long time to cook in the oven, and a lot of the early recipes in the book are quite meat and fish heavy (you might notice from my Roasting Tin review I used to eat fish but I don't any more), but where I think this book really comes into its own is the Lunchboxes chapter.

I absolutely love making a "lunchbox" dinner and taking the leftovers for work for a few days, and the recipes in that chapter are my favourite. I also love how easy she makes cooking grains in the oven in this book - an element I think this book in particular really excels in. There are a few recipes in the early books where grains are cooked in the oven, but this book really taught me to embrace cooking grains in this way, and I'm now so much more brave with chucking some bulghur or giant cous cous in the oven.

There are still so many recipes from Quick I haven't made yet - and so many I need to make veggie (I keep hearing about the Keralan curry!).

SO without further ado (cause sorry, that was a LOT of ado!), here are my top 10 favourite Roasting Tin recipes (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER BECAUSE I JUST CAN'T OKAY):

(Apologies that I don't have photos of most of the recipes! Funnily enough, most of my favourites have been discovered since I blogged about each of the books, so I haven't had a chance to photograph them yet!)

1. Warming sweet potato and mushroom polenta with tomatoes - The Green Roasting Tin

No photo of this one I'm afraid, as I came to it really late. I have no idea why this recipe didn't appeal when I first started using the book, but it's definitely a fan favourite on the #tinlads hashtag which encouraged me to give it a try. And I'm so so so glad I did. This might be my favourite roasting tin recipe (?!). I nearly always have cherry tomatoes and mushrooms in, and I buy sweet potatoes every week so this is an early one to whip up with minimal planning, although I do like to add the parsley if I can as its clean freshness really cuts through.

I love the creaminess of polenta anyway and here I particularly love how the sweet potato (sweet potatoes are my favourite food) kind of melts into the polenta, and the edges go all crispy and crusted. God it's just so good. Go make it now.

2. All in one sticky rice with broccoli, squash, chilli and ginger - The Green Roasting Tin

I wrote about this in my original review and it's still one of my favourites. I always make sure I have a box of jasmine rice in at all times so I can make this. It takes a while, but makes a lot - I nearly always have enough left for leftovers the next day. I've never varied the veg on this because I love broccoli and squash, but I imagine it would be great for clearing out the fridge of veg. 

This is a great dish for when you have people over for dinner too, cause it's super delicious, scales up well and you only need to dirty one pan.

3. Crispy gnocchi with mushrooms, squash and sage - The Green Roasting Tin

I always call this my "welcome to autumn" dish. The flavours of the squash and sage are just so autumnal and delicious. This is one of those genius recipes that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. I think I missed this first time around because it sounded a bit dry and a bit boring - I'm a fairly recent convert to pasta that isn't smothered in sauce. But the crispy sage and basil dressing and lemon juice just all complement each other so perfectly. Plus it's a perfect meal-in-one-tray dinner, which I love.

4. Simple roasted pepper orzotto - The Quick Roasting Tin

I made this a few weeks ago during lockdown when I found myself with a couple of bags of orzo in the cupboard (how?), a leftover sprig of rosemary and some peppers. It's another "so much better than the sum of its parts" recipe. Again, I thought it would be a bit bland, but it's so so delicious and fresh-tasting and wonderful. I reckon you could ever get away with dried rosemary if you don't have fresh.

5. Oven baked ratatouille: slow cooked courgette, aubergine, peppers and tomatoes - The Green Roasting Tin

This is what I make when Phil is out. So my biggest life regret is that back in 2016 I made Phil an undercooked slice of aubergine. Before then, aubergine was never a problem. After that, never again. I will rue that day for the rest of my life, because it means that I have to save recipes like this for when he's out. And it's such a shame because it's so bloody delicious.

It takes a while. It's one for me to put in the oven the second I walk in the house and then potter around for an hour and a bit while it cooks. It's always so sloppy on that first check, but bam!, every time it comes together perfectly. That fresh basil, the crispy topping, the extra cheese I always throw on top. PLUS it gets even better as it ages - I highly recommend making this for lunches and eating it over a few days. It just gets better and better.

6. Simple all-in-one dal with roasted shallots, coriander, pomegranate and cashews - The Green Roasting Tin

Dal is like, my favourite food (okay except for sweet potatoes). We eat it all the time. It's a running joke with my friends how much I eat dal. One of my friends was shocked it wasn't the main meal at our wedding. Dal is just THE BEST.

So I was nervous making this, even more so when I realised you were BAKING LENTILS IN THE OVEN FROM RAW?! Guys, trust Rukmini. She knows what she's doing.

The only reason this isn't my absolute all-time favourite roasting tin recipe is because of having to peel 250g of shallots. If that wasn't involved, I'd make this once a week. I know I can probably do it with red onions but will it be so delicious?!!

For someone who eats as much dal as I do, this is one of the best dals I've ever made. I don't bother with the coconut milk at the end and it's still creamy and delicious. Don't skip the pomegranate seeds though.

7. Leek and puy lentil gratin with a crunchy feta topping - The Green Roasting Tin

If there is one food I really hate, it's cream. I hate whipped cream, double cream, single cream, any cream. Sweet, savoury, hot, cold. No. Go away. I hate cream. 

And I especially hate creamy sauces. Cheesy is fine, but creamy is a no.

Is creme fraiche cream? I'm honestly not sure, but it's kind of like cream. Which is why I didn't make this recipe for wayyyyyy too long.

Another reason why - vacuum packed lentils. Not something I usually have in, not something I can easily get from Aldi (edited to add: I did manage to get some in Aldi recently! But knowing Aldi I'll never see them again so I got an extra pack just in case). 

But everyoneeeeee on Twitter kept banging on about how good this was, and I do love the sound of a "crunchy feta topping".

So the first time I made it I cooked the lentils from scratch the day before, did a bit of guesswork on the quantity and found out my tub of creme fraiche was way less than the 450ml required and had to quickly google a substitute (Greek yoghurt has your back).

And it. was. amazing.

It's now honestly one of my favourite recipes. It's not so much creamy but cheesy and crunchy and fresh-tasting but also rich and oooooh so delicious. 

It's worth getting hold of vacuum packed lentils for. Or getting over your weird cream aversion for (although I will say I now make this entirely with Greek Yoghurt which does the job!). I can see why Rukmini says this is a favourite among testers!

8. Crispy gnocchi with roasted peppers, chilli, rosemary and ricotta - The Green Roasting Tin

I've already written about this in my review of The Green Roasting Tin, but this was my gateway into the world of roasted gnocchi and I have never looked back. Again, I expected this to be bland, but it's cheesy and fresh and so so so delicious. And again, one big pan, a giant portion, no side dishes required.

9. Roasted halloumi and bulghur wheat salad with avocado, mango and coriander - The Quick Roasting Tin

I am always absolutely buzzing when I have this waiting for me for lunch at work. Hot avocado - who knew it was so good? And hot, fresh mango? God I can almost taste it. This is the best desk lunch I can think of - it tastes so delicious but also juicy and sweet and decadent. It's just really, really lovely.

10. Gado gado: Indonesian salad with warm potatoes, green beans, beansprouts and peanut-coconut dressing - The Green Roasting Tin

I made this the other day for the first time in ages because I forgot how absolutely bloody amazing it is. Dipping potatoes into peanut sauce!!!! The sauce is just unreal, and I don't know how beansprouts do that weird onion-y lovely crispy thing when they're cooked in the oven, but I'm okay with it.

Bonus faves from Phil!

I'm aware that as a vegetarian I'm not able to review all the lovely-sounding meat recipes in the Roasting Tin books, but Phil has cooked a few recipes from the original "yellow" book a few times when I've been out. 

He loves the Lemon and Garlic Rosemary Steak with Garlic Roasted Potatoes and Onions, but his favourites (so much so he couldn't choose between them) are the Avocado and Chicken Salad with Pomegranates and Brown Rice (I've done this a few times with halloumi rather than chicken and can concur it is delicious), and the Baked Egg Pasta Florentine (I tried this once with feta instead of the chorizo and it was too creamy for me with my cream-aversion!). 

I am so excited to see what the new book will hold and I'll be reviewing it as soon as I can!

Charlotte x

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