Veggie Tray Bake with Chickpeas & Tahini Dressing

Tray bakes are very popular at the moment and as winter draws in, throwing a few veggies into a large tray and roasting them in the oven can produce a quick, easy and comforting supper. I often roast vegetables but usually a close-to-ratatouille mix with onions, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes and sometimes, though not always, aubergine. I love serving them as a side with something like a roast chicken; sometimes I mix in a ‘Glorious grains’ mix and eat them ‘Three Ways‘. Tonight it was more a case of ‘whatever veggies were lurking in the fridge’. I’d had a lovely day out visiting my friends Tina and Howard, who live in a pretty village south of Guildford. Tina and I had a light lunch in the pub overlooking the village green, sitting outside in the sun and despite the more autumnal weather, it was warm enough to do that (with coats on!) and enjoy a last gasp at eating outside before winter sets in. Back home, I wanted to do a couple of hours’ work before suppertime and the easiest thing to do was throw something in the oven. I took a red onion, courgette, a sweet potato, the remains of a yellow pepper, part of a bulb of fennel, a stick of celery, some large tomatoes and chopped them up.

Into a large shallow pan they went. Instead of my usual ‘glorious grain’ mix, I decided to tip in a tin of chickpeas. I don’t eat chickpeas a lot, other than to make hummus, but I’m just back from a couple of days with my daughter Nicola who lives in Worcestershire and her three year old, Rufus, is very fond of chickpeas and clearly the memory of him picking up plain chickpeas one by one – with salad veggies on the side – was still clear in my mind. So in the chickpeas went.

I doused the mix with a good amount of gorgeous extra virgin olive oil. Scattered on sea salt and grated over some black pepper. A big pinch of Herbes de Provence followed. Then I mixed it all thoroughly.

Then it went into the oven (200C/Fan 180/Gas 6) about an hour before I wanted to eat.

The vegetable mix didn’t speak any particular cuisine to me but the chickpeas definitely seemed a bit Middle Eastern. So I decided to make a tahini dressing to go over the vegetables at the end. It was the same tahini dressing that goes over Ottolenghi’s Roasted Butternut Squash with Red Onion, Pine Nuts & Tahini Dressing, which I first posted here in 2012 and is still a family favourite, it’s so good. I made about half the original amount: 2 tablespoons tahini, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, a little grated garlic, salt and a couple of tablespoons of water. You whisk it all together. Check taste. I added a little more lemon juice and a little more water to make it thinner – but make it just as you like it!

I roasted the vegetables for about an hour, turning a couple of times so they cooked evenly. Once everything was tender and there was a delicious slight caramelising at the edges of some of the veg, I took it from the oven.

I spooned a serving into a shallow serving dish and spooned over the tahini.

You could serve some crusty bread with it if you like; maybe a green salad on the side. But I didn’t feel it needed anything else.

It was different to my usual kind of food and had a kind of ‘healthy eating’ vibe. I’m not into ‘health foods’ per se, though do eat very healthily, but it was really good and felt like a complete meal. All the vegetables were perfectly cooked, the chickpeas with a bite but soft inside. It was the tahini dressing which really made it special and was a perfect accompaniment. It would be too complex for me to want to serve as a side (as I do with other roasted vegetables) but it made a very delicious midweek supper. And so easy too!

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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