Image via Asi Es Como Es
When in doubt: rice bake.
This bake so, so satisfying and warming. There is a little bit of everything and it is all delicious and all superpowered. Creamy cannellini beans, toasted pine nuts, succulent roasted red capsicum, cumin-spiked zucchini and sweet chunks of pumpkin, all wrapped up in the healthiest of rices and an awesome, rich tomato-based sauce.
The Tomato-Onion Sauce is so lush and also super-versatile. Use it as a pasta sauce, a base sauce for pizza, a dressing for vegetables or legumes, a dipping sauce for beer battered tofu, the list goes on. It is easy, vibrant and delicious. If I was more organised, I would have a jar in the fridge at all times!
It might seem like there are a lot of steps in the recipe, but once you have made the sauce and roasted the veges, there isn’t really a hell of a lot more to do.
This recipe is definitely ripe for remixing. I got to thinking about extras, tweaks & additions that might work deliciously: chopped kalamata olives, capers, a breadcrumb topping, chopped nut topping, homemade vegan moxarella cheese, fresh coriander, fresh italian parsley, a little chilli oil.
Serve each helping with a big green salad drizzled with your favourite balsamic vinaigrette*.
Deluxe Roasted Vege Rice Bake with Rich Tomato-Onion Sauce
2/3 cup brown basmati** rice
1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
500g butternut pumpkin, deseeded and cut into 1″ chunks
1 red capsicum, deseeded and quartered
2 medium zucchini, halved and chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp rice bran oil
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
handful of pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds, sesame seeds…)
For the sauce:
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2 x large brown onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp raw sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano (optional)
What to do:
Preheat oven to 180 C. Roast pumpkin pieces, and capsicum pieces, on a lightly oiled tray until pumpkin is easily pierced and capsicum skin blisters and begins to blacken, 20-25 mins. Set aside.
When capsicum has cooled a little, cut into strips. Leave the skin on – there’s a lot of bodyloving goodness in vegetable skins.
Cook rice your preferred way. Drain and set aside, covered.
Make the sauce:
In a medium sauce pan, gently heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add onion and oregano (if using) and cook 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until onion softens. Be careful not to brown the garlic.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sea salt, raw sugar. Bring to simmer, reduce heat and cook, covered, until sauce begins to thicken, around 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Uncover and cook until sauce is reduced and very thick. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before blending until smooth.
Prepare the vegetable mixture:
In a large saucepan, heat rice bran oil over medium heat. Add cumin, stirring for 15 seconds. Add zucchini and cook 1 minute. Add red capsicum, cannellini beans, pine nuts, pumpkin and brown basmati.
Gently mix until well combined. Add enough Tomato-Onion sauce to generously cover and stir until mixed through. Reserve remaining sauce.
Assemble the Bake:
Lightly oil a 11 x 7″ baking dish. Spoon vegetable mixture into dish, until 80% full. Top up dish with an even layer of the remaining sauce, about 1/2″ thick. Reserve any remaining sauce in a sealed container and refrigerate for future kitchen escapades.
Sprinkle rice bake with pumpkin seeds.
Cover with foil and bake at 180 C for 30 minutes.
* As far as supermarket vinaigrettes go, Delmaine do good; a bottle of Delmaine balsamic is a staple in my kitchen right now.
** I love brown basmati; it’s awesome because it cooks in less time than standard ‘ol long grain brown rice, and has a less chewy texture.