Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables

When I was approximately 9 years old I decided to stop eating meat, apart from some chicken, every now and again. I grew up on a farm and with my siblings being older than me I had the ever-increasing problem of playmates. I did, however, have a great variety of animals to play with. I was under the impression that when a truck came to collect the animals they were being transported to another farm until one day I was left waiting with the driver and he filled me in on where he was actually taking them. I was horrified and in turn, I protested by pledging not to eat meat ever again. My poor mother had a difficult time at mealtimes as I most definitely was going to stand by my principles and not touch meat. As time passed I think I wasn't eating meat, out of habit more than anything else, until at the age of 20 when my husband, who I had only stated to date, served me up spaghetti bolognese. I had never had a boyfriend who cooked for me before and being so impressed by his culinary skills I ate it and partially even enjoyed it. I eventually increased my intake of meat and now enjoy red meat more than any other.

It is, however, easier to be a vegetarian now as there are now so many meat substitutions on the market and ways to have a complete balanced diet without having to include meat in your diet.

A very simple dish I regularly make, either to have on its own with rice or to accompany a meat dish are roasted vegetables sprinkled with cheese. I find this is something quick, tasty and low in fat (depending on what type of cheese you use). Usually, when cooked I drizzle the veg with a little sweet chilli dipping sauce or sprinkle with a few crushed cashew nuts.

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables

1 red pepper
1 onion
1/2 courgette
handful mushrooms
8 cherry tomatoes
50g grated Cheddar cheese/feta (crumbled)
Few basil leaves
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt
Olive oil
Sweet chilli dipping sauce (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C.
2. Place all veg, apart from the tomatoes, in a casserole dish. Tear the basil leaves and add to the veg.
3. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle over some olive oil and mix well.
4. Place in preheated oven for 15mins. Take out of the oven, add tomatoes and sprinkle over the cheese.
5. Put back in the oven for approximately 5 mins or until the cheese has completely melted over the veg.
6. To serve either drizzle over a little sweet chilli sauce or top with some crushed cashew nuts.