Cook This: Vegetarian Dinner’s in the Oven: One-Pan Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes by Rukmini Iyer - Modern Farmer

Cook This: Vegetarian Dinner’s in the Oven: One-Pan Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes by Rukmini Iyer

Once a month, our writer cooks from the book and decides if these farm-to-table recipes are worth the investment.

The world of food publishing pays a lot of attention to grand meals, like dinner parties and backyard barbecues with whole pigs, but they make up a tiny fraction of the meals I cook every day. What I struggle with are humble weeknight dinners, when I’m short on time and self-discipline to not order pizza. Rukmini Iyer’s Vegetarian Dinner’s in the Oven: One-Pan Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes (Chronicle Books, $19.99) is the answer I’m looking for. This compact tome is full of vegetarian and vegan one-pan dinners that take anywhere from 10 minutes to just over an hour. Some are designed to be served with rice or bread, while others add quick-cooking carbs, such as pasta, bulgur and puff pastry, to the pan. The dishes are international and creative and include favorites like Creole-Spiced Leek & Mushroom Tart and Rainbow Tabbouleh with Avocado, Radishes & Pomegranate. Yum!

I chose a 10-minute recipe to put this book through its paces: Lime & Cilantro Mushrooms with Bok Choy & Asparagus. Simply toss asparagus, bok choy and mushrooms with sesame oil and salt, spread on a baking tray and broil for five to 10 minutes. Toss the vegetables with a dressing of lime juice and zest, sesame oil and soy sauce, top with chopped cilantro and serve over rice. In my kitchen, the prep took a bit longer than 10 minutes, but the result was a quick, light supper with lots of zippy flavor.

We also made All-In-One Roasted Tomato & Bay Orzo with Black Pepper, which is, quite possibly, the quickest baked pasta ever! If you’re looking for excuses to avoid cooking dinner tonight, you definitely don’t want to get this book. For everyone else, it’s full of inspiring, low-effort meals that will add more veggies to your diet.

Wendy Underwood tests out cookbooks weekly on Instagram at @kitchenvscookbook. 

Excerpted from Vegetarian Dinner’s in the Oven © 2019 by Rukmini Iyer. Photography © 2019 by David Loftus. Reproduced by permission of Chronicle Books. All rights reserved.


Total time: Prep: 10 minutes / Cook: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

This is perfect with rice for a light dinner when you’re in a hurry. Use the biggest broiler pan you have so you can fit all the vegetables on it in one layer.

  • 2⁄3 pound [300g] mini portobello mushrooms
  • 1⁄4 pound [120g] shiitake or mixed mushrooms
  • 1⁄2 pound [200g] asparagus
  • 1⁄2 pound [200g] bok choy
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lime plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
To serve
  • 2⁄3 cup [25g] fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • White or jasmine rice

Preheat the broiler to its highest setting. Spread out the mushrooms, asparagus, and bok choy in a single layer on a large broiler pan, then add the sesame oil and sea salt and mix well. Broil for 5–10 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through and the greens have just wilted.

For the dressing, mix the lime zest, juice, sesame oil, and soy sauce together and dress the grilled vegetables with it as soon as they come out of the oven. Scatter with fresh cilantro and serve with rice.


Total time: Prep: 10 minutes / Cook: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Zucchini can be unfairly maligned, but try this pantry dish and you’ll have new green-vegetable converts in your house. Add a bowl of lemony couscous on the side for a lovely light dinner.

  • 6 large zucchini, cut into 1⁄2-inch [1cm] diagonal slices
  • 7 ounces [200g] feta cheese, roughly chopped
  • 21⁄2 cups [140g] sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 1 cup and 3 tablespoons [120g] black olives
  • 2⁄3 cup [40g] panko breadcrumbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
To serve
  • Couscous (see below)

Preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C].

Put the zucchini slices into a very large roasting pan in a single layer, then cover thickly with the feta cheese. Scatter the sun-dried tomatoes and olives over evenly, then sprinkle with the panko breadcrumbs and plenty of black pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast for 35 minutes. 

Ten minutes before you’re ready to eat, prepare the couscous, stirring in some lemon juice if you wish.

Serve the roasted zucchini with the couscous alongside.

Note: If you’re using sundried tomatoes in olive oil, you don’t need to add any extra oil to the dish—there’s enough on the tomatoes. If you’re using dried tomatoes from a package, mix 1 tablespoon of oil with the zucchini before adding the feta.

5 MINUTES—COUSCOUS: PLAIN/WHOLE GRAIN: Place 1 cup [200g] in a bowl, pour 1 cup [250ml] boiling vegetable stock over it, cover with a plate, then let it stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.


Total time: Prep: 10 minutes / Cook: 1 hour
Servings: 2

This sticky coconut rice works perfectly with the sharp cilantro and lime dressing, and the contrasting sweetness of the squash and the crunch from the cashews. It doubles up easily if you’re feeding more people.

  • 3⁄4 cup [150g] jasmine rice
  • One 14.5-ounce [400ml] can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 inch [2.5cm] ginger, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2⁄3 pound [300g] squash, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch [1cm] cubes
  • 2⁄3 pound [300g] broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 tablespoons [30g] cashews, to serve
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 inch [2.5cm] ginger, grated
  • 1 red chile, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup [20g] fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C]. 

Mix the rice, coconut milk, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a small roasting pan and top with the squash. Cover tightly with foil, then transfer to the oven and cook for 45 minutes.

Top the rice and squash with the broccoli, then re-cover and return to the oven for 15 minutes longer. Place the cashew nuts on a small baking sheet and transfer to the oven to toast at the same time.

For the dressing, mix together the oil, lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, chile, and cilantro, adjusting the soy and lime juice to taste.

Pour the dressing over the hot broccoli, rice, and squash, scatter with the toasted cashews, and serve hot.

Note: Deseed the chile if you prefer a milder dressing.

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