One-tin wonder: Miso aubergines with tofu, sesame and chilli
Rukmini Iyer's vegan and vegetarian recipes can be whipped up in a matter of minutes.
I love to cook - so much that I switched careers to do it for a living. On a given day, you'll find me in a studio kitchen in London, cooking then arranging the food for a photo shoot - from trays of perfect roast potatoes for Christmas adverts to towering pancake stacks for commercials.
The food ranges from simple home-cooking to restaurant-standard plating with microherbs, edible flowers and all the rest. But funnily enough, when it comes to lunchtime and I serve up the food we've already taken pictures of, the dishes that people enjoy the most are often the simplest.
The recipes we want to take home and re-create for our families aren't the ones that have six different components and take two hours to put together; they're simple weeknight dinners that we can get on the table with a minimum of fuss.
My automatic goal on getting home from work is to eat something that doesn't involve standing in the kitchen for more than a few minutes. Cue the traybake - oven on, five minutes chopping, chuck everything in a roasting tin, then go and crash on the sofa. Friends with young children have said the same thing to me: with a baby on one hip and a toddler zooming around, there's little time to stand and stir even one pan on the hob, let alone two or three.
That's how the idea for my first cookbook, The Roasting Tin, came about. There are many more one-tin dinners in my new book, The Green Roasting Tin, except this time they're vegan and vegetarian. The whole book is arranged by speed, with the chapters arranged into 'Quick: under 30 minutes', 'Medium: under 45 minutes' and 'Slow: one hour plus', so you can pick a dish depending on how much time you have.
My boyfriend, the king of the anti-hassle manifesto, judges any recipe on how much washing up it creates. When I deviate from a one-tin dinner, he'll point at the sink, bursting with six saucepans, three chopping boards, a grater, a dough-encrusted Magimix and five glass bowls, and admit that although dinner was delicious, the cost-benefit analysis does not balance. Then I get a very baleful look as he does the washing up.
Domestic one-upmanship aside, I love how the simple 'chuck it in a tin' template lends itself to swapping ingredients in or out.
I'm all for using up what you have in the fridge and both books feature infographics that help you experiment with ingredients, or get some inspiration at the supermarket.
In terms of flavours, I like my recipes to be bold and punchy. Loads of lemon or lime juice, ginger or garlic, a dollop of harissa or pesto or olive tapenade, a few teaspoons of spice - any one of the above will ramp up and enhance the flavour of your traybake.
And it's so easy to swap the flavours around as well - a basic lemon juice, olive oil and chopped basil dressing is transformed by switching out the lemon juice for lime, and the basil for coriander - keep the olive oil, or swap in sesame if you have it.
Texture is all important too - add salted peanuts instead of pine nuts to the dressing above for crunch, and you have a punchy Asian-inspired dressing to transform a tray of roasted veg.
My cooking ethos and books are all about low-effort yet high-return dinners. These dishes are so flavoursome that when you take them to the table, people imagine you've spent hours cooking, when actually, you spent five minutes in the kitchen and let the oven do the work - minimum fuss, maximum flavour.
MISO AUBERGINES WITH TOFU, SESAME & CHILLI
Miso aubergines seem to be all the rage at the moment, and with good reason - the flavours work beautifully together. This version adds a punchy sesame and lime dressing to liven up both the aubergines and the crispy tofu. Serve alongside fluffy white rice.
Prep time: 10 minutes; cook time: 45 minutes
2 aubergines, halved lengthways
250g firm organic tofu, cut into 1.5cm slices
100g spring greens, thickly sliced
75g miso paste
1 tbsp sesame oil
2.5cm ginger, grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Dressing: 1 red chilli, finely chopped
2cm ginger, grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 limes, zest and juice
30ml soy sauce
30ml sesame oil
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
To serve: 30g sesame seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas 6. Cut deep cross-hatches into each aubergine half, then transfer to a roasting tin along with the tofu and spring greens.
2. Mix the miso paste with the sesame oil, ginger and garlic, then rub this into everything in the roasting tin. Transfer to the oven and roast for 45 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, mix the chilli, ginger, garlic, lime zest and juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and spring onions together. Tip this dressing over the aubergine and tofu as soon as it comes out of the oven, then scatter with the sesame seeds.
4. Serve hot with rice alongside.