A hearty tray bake like today's recipe is another favorite quick weeknight meal solution. It's the oven equivalent to a one-pot meal on the stove. Everything is roasted together on the tray, and any remaining ingredients not needing to be cooked are tossed in at the end directly on the tray, leaving you with exactly one pan to clean after dinner. Not bad, is it? I know a lot of you love your roasted root veggies this time of year, so this tray bake method takes it a step further by turning the roasted veg into a whole meal, right on the tray. Plus, who doesn't love a rustic oven-to-table serving style.
The other strategy that makes this a quick meal solution is using pre-cooked grains. The recipe calls for cooked wheat berries. (You could also use farro, spelt berries, millet, or quinoa.) But whatever you choose, the trick is to have the grains cooked and waiting for you. (Same goes for beans, when using.) For heartier grains that take longer to cook, like wheat or spelt berries, or farro, I'll cook a large batch at once and store them in a plastic ziploc bag in the freezer so they're ready to use anytime.
Even with only seven ingredients, this tray bake is full of delicious bites. The lemon caramelizes as it roasts and its juice turns into a sweet jam-like consistency. Blanched almonds add a nice toasty crunch to compliment the nutty cauliflower, wheat berries give a hearty chew, and onion and grapes add a concentrated pop of caramelized sweetness. This tray bake forms a terrific base. Enjoy it as is or change it up from week to week. Toss in arugula or mache, or top with crumbled cheese. For more protein, add cooked beans with or in place of a grain, or toss in cubed tofu or tempeh or shrimp to roast with the other ingredients. Note, more oil and vinegar may be needed if you choose to add beans, tofu, or shrimp.
Cauliflower Tray Bake with Grapes and Almonds
Notes: This tray bake forms a terrific base. Enjoy it as is or change it up from week to week. Toss in arugula or spinach, or top with crumbled cheese. For more protein, add cooked beans with or in place of the grain, or toss in cubed tofu, tempeh, or shrimp to roast with the other ingredients. Note, more oil and vinegar may be needed if you add beans, tofu, or shrimp. And if you don't care for the grapes, simply leave them out and add a handful of black oil-cured olives at the end.
- 1 small-medium head of cauliflower (keep tender outer green leaves)
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 cup (170 gr) grapes
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup (65 gr) blanched almonds
- 1 cup (180 gr) cooked wheat berries
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F. (If you're oven cooks slow, increase temperature to 220 C/425 F.)
- Cut cauliflower into florets and chop tender stem. Roughly chop tender outer green leaves. (I peel away any of the tough and dry larger green leaves and reserve the second layer of more tender leaves.) Roughly chop onion.
- Place cauliflower and onion on a large baking tray with grapes and lemon halves. Add balsamic, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Use your fingers to combine well and spread around tray in an even layer.
- Cook for 10 minutes. Then stir in almonds and return to oven for another 10 minutes, or until almonds are lightly golden brown.
- Add cooked wheat berries and squeeze lemon halves over the mixture. (If you're not using a lemon squeezer, wait a few minutes for lemons to cool down before squeezing). Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and another generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss everything together with a spoon and serve.