Vegan traybake with spring veggies
Today, I have a delicious, Spring-inspired main for you that is a breeze to make as most of the action happens in your oven, on a single tray.
It’s filling, easy to make and makes for a well-balanced meatless dinner, full of healthy carbs, plant protein and green veggies. It mostly comes together on a single baking tray, but I’ve included an optional extra of luscious basil cream, which is simply delightful on those golden roasted potatoes. Once you start dipping them in that sauce, you won’t be able to walk away…I learnt the hard way 😉 …
The only thing that’s worth doing ahead is to marinate your tofu as the longer it sits in the marinade, the tastier it gets. The marinade itself is very simple. I wanted to keep it away from the usual seasonings of soy sauce, sesame oil etc. as while they certainly make tofu taste delicious, they don’t quite go with my classic Spring-inspired flavours of lemon and herbs.
MORE ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
TOFU – Use firm cotton (as opposed to silken) tofu that has been pressed. Marinate for as long as possible to intensify the flavour. I wanted to make the marinade accessible so I’ve used things like lemon, garlic, dry herbs and nutritional yeast and miso, which most vegan households rely on for a flavour boost. If you have a jar of vegan pesto in your fridge, adding a couple of spoonfuls of it to the marinade takes it up a notch. Any pesto will do but classic basil pesto or wild garlic pesto are my personal favourites in this dish. That’s completely unnecessary though, there is plenty of flavour going on here already.
MISO – This Japanese seasoning is a staple flavour enhancer that is widely used in vegan cooking. If you haven’t got a jar of it yet, it’s worth getting. It’s very versatile and keeps for ages. I used it here to flavour the tofu and a bit more to give the basil cream a little bit of depth.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST – Nutritional yeast (often lovingly referred to as ‘nooch’) adds a bit of umami to things. I love using it and used it here, in small amounts, to amp up the flavour of my tofu, basil cream and to enhance the flavour of the broccoli florets.
POTATOES – The best potatoes for this kind of dish are small, uniformly shaped potatoes that are suitable for roasting – in other words those that contain a lot of starch (like Maris Piper in the UK, Russet in the USA). However, the ones you see in photos are actually salad potatoes (a variety called Annabelle) as my local shop ran out of small Maris Pipers on the day of my shoot. As they contain less starch, they are a little slower to brown so be sure to increase the oven temperature as per the instructions.
ASPARAGUS – I used extra thick asparagus spears as they are best for roasting – they don’t dry out that much in the oven and remain moist inside. If using skinnier spears, you’ll need to take them out of the oven sooner.
TENDERSTEM BROCCOLI – I love tenderstem broccoli, but regular broccoli will do just as nicely here! Divide it into florets, cut large florets into halves, coat in 10 ml / 2 tsp olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and dust with nutritional yeast (if using). Spread on the baking tray, cut side down and bake for about 12-15 minutes.
CAPERS – I love capers, these little pickled flower buds add so much flavour and they work really beautifully here. I added a spoonful to the cream and sprinkled some more on the dish. Be aware that they are usually pickled in a salty brine so don’t add salt to things without tasting first.
CASHEWS – Soaked cashews make for a deliciously creamy sauce, but you can get the same effect using hulled sunflower seeds too! Alternatively, use a neutral tasting (ideally almond or oat, not coconut, based), thick vegan yoghurt as a base for the cream. You will need about 1½ cups.
BASIL – Basil is one of my favourite herbs and I really like its flavour here. Even though it’s a close cousin of mint, it’s a little more versatile in my opinion. You can use mint instead but you may need to use a little less in the cream as it tends to overpower other flavours more readily than basil.
- 600 g / 21 oz small (starchy ideally) potatoes*
- 30 ml / 2 tbsp olive oil
- 200 g / 7 oz tenderstem broccoli*
- 200 g / 7 oz extra thick asparagus spears* (optional)
- 2 spring onions / scallions, only white and light green parts
- 4 garlic cloves, skin on
- 65 g / ½ cup frozen petit pois or green peas
- 1 tbsp capers, chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
TOFU (marinate overnight if possible)
- At the bottom of a large, flat dish, combine all the tofu marinade ingredients with 60 ml (¼ cup) of water. Mix really well.
- Cut tofu into 1 cm / 3/8″ slices and arrange them, in a single layer, in the marinade. Spoon some of the marinade over the tofu from time to time. Marinate as long as possible, ideally overnight for a better flavour.
- Preheat the oven to 200° C / 390° F (or 180° C / 355° F with fan) and grab a large, sturdy baking tray (I use this tray). If using salad potatoes (which brown slower than starchy potatoes), increase the temperature by 20° C / 100° F.
- Scrub your potatoes clean, towel them dry, cut in half lengthwise and coat in 1 tbsp (15 ml) of olive oil.
- Arrange them on the baking tray, cut side down and bake for 15 minutes.
- Coat broccoli, asparagus, spring onions and unpeeled garlic cloves in a small amount of olive oil. I also like to dip the broccoli tips in nutritional yeast as it makes them extra delicious.
- After 15 minutes in the oven, flip the potatoes to the other side and add tofu, spring onions and garlic cloves to the tray. Carry on roasting for another 15 minutes, but garlic and spring onions may only need 10 minutes if your temp is set to high.
- After 30 minutes in the oven, potatoes should be fully cooked through. If so, take them off the tray (keep them warm) to make room for the veggies. If baking at higher temperature to begin with, decrease the oven temperature to 200° C / 390° F. Remove garlic cloves and spring onions from the tray too.
- Place broccoli and asparagus spears (if using) on the tray next to tofu. Arrange the broccoli so that the tops are bunched together (they cook quicker) but stems are a bit separated from each other.
- Bake for further 10-12 minutes, depending on how thick your vegetables are, they may be done a little quicker (use a small knife to check for doneness in the thickest point). Add frozen petit pois in the last 3-4 minutes of the baking time. While the veggies are baking, make the cream.
- Add potatoes back to the tray, spread chopped capers on everything, give everything a light seasoning and a dusting of lemon zest. Serve with a side of basil cream.
- Place roasted spring onions, squeezed out roasted garlic cloves, drained cashews, lemon juice (zest it first, keep the zest for the traybake) and 80 ml (1/3 cup) of water in a small blender (I used a Ninja blender for this). Blend until smooth, add more water if needed.
- Blend in basil, capers, miso, nutritional yeast and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Keeps for about 4 days in the fridge and tastes even better a day after it’s been made.
*TENDERSTEM BROCCOLI: You can use regular broccoli too! Divide it into florets, large florets into halves, coat in 10 ml / 2 tsp olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and dust with nutritional yeast (if using). Spread on the baking tray, cut side down and bake for about 12-15 minutes.
*EXTRA THICK ASPARAGUS: I used extra thick asparagus spears as they are the best for roasting – they don’t dry out that much in the oven and remain moist inside. If using skinnier spears, you’ll need to take them out of the oven sooner.
*per one quarter, without basil cream