Afghani Sauce With Roasted Vegetables

Chak Chak and good quality olive oil make for a simple and satisfying lunch.

When you don’t include a lot of grains in your diet, lunch can be a challenge. Most cultures are obsessed with bread, tortillas, noodles and rice. There are many other options, of course, but weekday lunch is not usually the time when we expend a lot of thought being creative with our meal planning.

Roasting vegetables is very easy and fast, if you cut them to be small or thin. I only add sea salt and a generous helping of really high quality olive oil, and roast at 400°F. Roast a few different vegetables, and include something that anchors your meal. Some of you will like potatoes, but I don’t often eat them. For a feeling of satiety I prefer an orange-fleshed squash. It’s a bit starchy, and has a rich, warm flavor. Delicata is marvelous finger food, and I eat it with the skin on.  In the summer, roasted zucchini or eggplant is a fantastic seasonally appropriate option.

For interest, I love a dipping sauce. Hummus is a nice option, but for a change I tried this Afghani yoghurt sauce called chak-chak, or sometimes called chakkah. It’s a thick yoghurt and garlic sauce, which can have mint, cilantro, lemon and chili added. It’s very easy to make and versatile. You can add a dollop to soups, toss meat or veg-filled dumplings in it, or serve it as an accompaniment to lamb or chicken.

I enjoy this as a main course, with a salad to start. Obviously, I work at home, so I can cut the veg, toss it in oil and roast for 15 minutes. For those who work away from home, you can roast up a bunch of veg in advance and take it with you, with a little container for the sauce.

But don’t overcook it! No one finds mushy vegetables appetizing. I actually don’t mind eating these cold, and usually make too much to eat at lunch, giving me something to munch on later or the next day. I don’t bother reheating. Or, you can throw leftover roasted veg right onto your salad the next day, along with some raw milk feta and pumpkin seeds.

If I’m having company, I often make a large platter of roasted veg just like this and serve with sauce, white wine, fresh bread and stuffed dates or fresh figs, depending on the season. It’s absolutely gorgeous on the plate, delicious and wholesome to eat, and just about the easiest thing to make.

Knowing how to make a variety of sauces, from pesto to Indian raita, helps you make the most of your CSA vegetables. It’s the easiest way to add sophistication and interest to your meals. So get saucy and get global! Lunchtime will never be the same.

More inspiration

Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies

Modern Sauces: More than 150 Recipes for Every Cook, Every Day

Pestos, Tapenades, and Spreads: 40 Simple Recipes for Delicious Toppings, Sauces & Dips


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