Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Roasted Yams, Leeks and Lotus Root

Roasted vegetables are nothing new. Just about anything can be tossed in oil and roasted. It brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables. Potatoes, onion, carrots, and peppers are the first thing I think of when it comes to roasting vegetables. I often forget about how good roasting is.. I kind of associate it with animal-based meals. Roasted chick, pork, beef.. as a kid these were the things I had roasted vegetables with. So what do pair with roasted vegetables as a vegan? Anything. Tofu, seitan and tempeh are often my choices for having a vegan meat and potato type meal, but also great with soups, stews, mixed with grains like rice or quinoa.

I Wanted to make some roasted vegetables, but I didn't have the traditional veggies on hand. I also was making this for a midnight snack, so I didn't want a full meal. What I found in my kitchen was yams, lotus root and leek. Kind of a weird combination on first glance, but these vegetables are all mild and sweet and take on many different types of flavours. Seemed perfect for a late-night snack.

When I told people about this one, the first question I usually get is, 'what is lotus root'... The day I discovered lotus root, was a good day in the world of food. It is such a versatile vegetable and really good for you. It is pretty big, about 10-20 cm in length and 6-8 cm in diameter. It looks kind of like daikon (Asian radish. If you haven't heard of it... I will do a post on it some day soon), but has holes running through which makes it a really pretty veggie when sliced.

Lotus root is also really healthy. For a root vegetable, it is very low-calorie. Also very high in fibre with about 5 g in a serving. It is high in vitamin C (more than 75% of your daily requirement). Lotus root is high in B-6 which I found out today is a vitamin that helps control mood. Getting enough B-6  helps control nervous irritability, headaches, and tension. I had no idea. Lastly, it is a great source for minerals like copper, zinc and iron. basically, like most (all?) vegetables, lotus root is really good for you. It is super versatile in cooking too. You can add it to soups, stir fries or on its own as a side dish. It can be baked, roasted, boiled, steamed, fried or shredded. It can be tricky to find. It is in season in the fall and usually only available at Asian markets.

My favourie way to prepare lotus root is to roasted it with other vegetables and dress it up a bit with lime and maple syrup. It is a fantastic sweet and savoury snack.

Roasted Yam, Leek and Lotus Root
*Serves two, takes about 25 minutes

  • 1 large yam, sliced thin 
  • 1 piece of lotus root (about 4-5"), sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced in half lengthwise and the sliced into thinly.
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp Mint leaves
Not a great photo.. I was rushing, but super
easy to get this ready. Just slice things evenly

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare the vegetables and put them into a large bowl. Toss with the oil, salt and pepper and lay everything flat on a cookie sheet. Put in the oven and roast for about 10 min. At this point, take the veggies out of the oven and sprinkle the maple syrup and the lime juice over top and toss again to coat. Put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the are golden brown and cooked through. 
Before roasting

And.. after. 

You can slice lime slices and serve with them as a garnish or sprinkle some chopped cilantro or mint leaves (and remember, always spank your mint!) on them if you want to make them look a little prettier for serving. Really these are perfectly fine on their own though. Pretty simple dish.. tastes amazing and is good enough to just have on its own. It will keep a few days in the fridge, but won't be as crisp if you reheat in the microwave. best way to reheat these is in a frying pan or in the oven.

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