As many of you who peruse this blog may know, I used to be a vegetarian, but gave it up on my move to the land where “everything is good in a pig”. However, I still eat a mostly vegetarian diet at home, and am constantly on the lookout for new recipes, as many which sound tempting on paper are dreadful in practice (such as a three-veg pudding that I read about in “Cooking from an Italian Garden”, which actually turned out to basically be baby food. NICE.).

However, Saint Ainsley of Harriott has come along to save me with a recipe for root veg and nut crumble. Yeah, I know – it may not sound that appealing. And it may not be what you would expect from the lively Jamaican guy best known for brightening up every episode of Ready Steady Cook:

BUT this recipe is not only tasty, cheap, healthy (you can get ALL of your five a day from this recipe alone), and easy to make, but it also reheats brilliantly and leaves you feeling full for ages.

So, for your cooking pleasure, here’s the full recipe, which has been shamelessly copied from the Flour Advisory Bureau’s website:

Not a picture of mine, but theirs looks basically the same, and they are better photographers too…

Fry 900g of chopped prepared root vegetables (a mixture of carrot, swede, parsnip, turnip, and butternut squash) in 25g butter. Cook gently for 10 minutes before adding 2 cleaned and sliced leeks. After 3-4 minutes, sprinkle in 50g flour, and stir it in before adding 300ml vegetable stock, 150ml milk, and 200g chopped tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the crumble topping: rub together 50g butter and 100g flour (OR just fry up 100g wholemeal breadcrumbs in the same amount of butter) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in 100g grated Cheddar cheese, 75g chopped mixed nuts (I used hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts), and 1tbsp each of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Season to taste, and then season the filling as well. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 190°C, and serve with extra veg (e.g. broccoli) if you like. Serves 6.

The first time I made this, I halved it to make 3 portions, which did me one great dinner and then two easy-to-freeze portions for work lunches. This doesn’t disintegrate on defrosting or microwaving, or lose flavour – it tastes just as good after a spell in the freezer. Its versatility is also another winning point: you can just chuck in any root veg you have (even potatoes!) and mix up the nuts and seeds for variation (I used a bag of “Omega Sprinkle” from Holland and Barrett that I had lurking in my kitchen cupboards). In addition, it definitely ensures you’ll be able to get through your afternoon without having to make a dash for the vending machines.

I really think that Ainsley, through his work with Ready Steady Cook (as well as other shows like More Nosh, Less Dosh, and books like his Meals in Minutes series), has really helped to show that you can make decent food on limited means (whether that means time or money). It’s my view that this recipe only furthers that cause – and urge you to give this winter warmer a go at the earliest opportunity.