Not much beats a roast for dinner-time comfort. For the post-Anzac day chilliness that has now swept through these parts, I offer you this recipe that brings vegetables from the periphery of a carnivore’s roast dinner to the centre of a hearty, comforting, rich and nourishing vege meal.

(The original recipe for this dish includes star anise: I include it below for those of you who may be partial to this spice, but in my opinion I don’t think it adds much here. I would leave it out next time.)

Caramel soy roast vegetables
Adapted from Delicious

1 small butternut pumpkin, peeled and seeded
2 parsnips, peeled
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled
2 small carrots, peeled
1 small eggplant
2 bunches slender asparagus, ends trimmed
2 star anise (optional)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4cm piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup light soy sauce
1/2 lime, squeezed
brown rice, to serve

Preheat oven to 220C. Set aside asparagus. Cut remaining vegetables into 3cm chunks and spread in a roasting pan. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and the star anise (if using). Season with black pepper and roast for 30 minutes. Check the vegetables at this time, and once you think they are cooked through and just beginning to turn golden at the edges, scatter the asparagus spears over the top, and roast for just 5 more minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the sauce. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil, and add in the garlic, ginger and onion. Stir for 10 minutes over low heat, until all is softened. Increase the heat to medium, then add the sugar and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and allow to reduce for 1 minute, then stir in the lime juice.

Toss the roasted vegetables in the sauce, and serve over brown rice.

Yield: serves 4