This vegetarian dish is so fulfilling and perfect for winter. It’s hearty, flavoursome and full of goodness from the vegetables; and the colour is gorgeous too! I used sweet potatoes, onion, asparagus and leeks; but other vegetables such as pumpkin, potato, zucchini, carrot can also be used.

Combined with pasta, it makes a complete dish for dinner. The cheese sauce is very delicate and does not overpower the vegetables. The vegetables when roasted give a nice caramelisation; the sweetness from the vegetables really match the cheese sauce.

The dish is very easy to make and you can keep the leftover in the fridge for the next day. Just need to heat it up in the microwave for the next day’s meal. It’s so great! 🙂

Roasted vegetable and pasta bake

(recipe from ‘Cook smart for a healthy heart’, Reader’s Digest, 2004)

(serve 4 – 6)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 5 cm cubes
  • 2 red onions, cut into large chunks. I used 1 red and 1 brown onion.
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 large leeks, thickly sliced
  • 170 gr asparagus spears, cut across in half
  • 300 gr rigatoni

Cheese sauce

  • 600 ml low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 70 gr cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • pepper to taste

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place the sweet potato and onions in a roasting pan and scatter oven the garlic. Drizzle with the oil and season with pepper. Toss to coat the vegetables with the oil, then place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Step 2. Remove the pan from the oven and add the leeks and asparagus. Toss gently to mix with the other vegetables, then return to the oven. Roast for a further 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown.

Step 3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 – 12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.

Step 4. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, measure 4 tablespoons milk into a jug, add the cornflour and stir to make a smooth paste. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan until almost boiling. Stir the hot milk into the cornflour mixture, then return to the saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and add two-thirds of the cheese and the mustard. Season with pepper.

Step 5. Remove the vegetables from the oven. Drain the pasta well then tip over the vegetables and stir to combine. Stir in the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Return to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve hot.



I’m so excited when seeing this recipe on TasteSpotting. It brought back the memory when we travelled in Japan in 2007. Okonomiyaki or Japanese pancake is made of plain flour, water, egg, mixed with cabbage and other vegetables and meat or seafood. The combination varies a lot, and I guess we can pretty much mix and match the ingredients to what we like. The topping also varies from the okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise to bonito flakes.

While in Japan, we had okonomiyaki in two different regions: Nara and Hiroshima. Each region gives a different touch to the dish. In Nara, the okonomiyaki is regarded as the speciality of the area. The recipe I tried is pretty much the Nara/ Osaka’s style of okonomiyaki. In the restaurant we ordered the dish in Nara, the okonomiyaki is cooked on a flat top in our own table (click here to see our blog post when we were in Nara).

Hiroshima’s style okonomiyaki has its ingredients layered rather than mixed together. The one we ordered also had noodles in it. Absolutely loved it!! See here for our blog post in Hiroshima.

Here, I made a vegetarian okonomiyaki consisting of cabbage, carrot and spring onion. It’s a very easy dish to make and yet tasty and filling. The okonomiyaki sauce is a must and the mayonnaise gives a nice touch and cute presentation. I put the mayo inside a plastic bag, then snip 1 corner of the bag with scissors (small cut only), then pipe the mayo over the okonomiyaki.


(from recipe by Matt in his blog ‘Food for Friends Yeah!’)

(makes 2)


  • 130 gr plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 150 ml water
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 gr washed and shredded cabbage (tough parts removed)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced spring onions
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • extra sliced spring onions, for garnish

Simple Okonomiyaki sauce

  • 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce


  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Step 1. Mix the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add the water and whisk until most of the lumps have gone. Add the eggs and continue to whisk until combined. Add in the cabbage, carrot and spring onion, season with salt and pepper and mix together.

Step 2. Place a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Once it’s hot, spoon in the mixture and use the spoon to flatten it to around 1.5cm thick. Push in the edges to keep it round in shape. Cook for around 5-7 minutes. Once the edges start to brown carefully flip over and cook on the other side for a further 5-7 minutes. Once cooked through, slide onto a plate.

Step 3. Mix the Okonomiyaki sauce ingredients together and spread over the okonomiyaki. Then combine the mayo ingredients together and drizzle or pipe the mayo over the sauce. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions.

It’s a simple and easy to make vegetarian dish. It certainly makes me want to go to Japan again…!


Butternut pumpkin was in the fruit and veggie box from Aussie Farmers Direct last week :). It’s been a while since we had pumpkin, so I was excited that I got it and straight away thinking how I should cook it this time. Comes in the fruit and veggie box was a note from AFD, listing the content of the box and also 1 recipe for a quick and easy butternut pumpkin risotto. I read all the ingredients and great… I have all the ingredients so I will just use that recipe 😀

I adapted the recipe slightly. In the original recipe, the pumpkin is cooked together with onion and then rice. Instead, I roasted the pumpkin first to make them crunchy, before adding them to the rice. Also, roasting them makes the pumpkin release its sweetness and caramelise the sugar in the pumpkin. They will taste so much better 🙂

I also omitted the butter from the original recipe and used olive oil instead.

Butternut pumpkin risotto

(adapted from the recipe from Aussie Farmers Direct)

(serves 4 – 5)

  • 1 butternut pumpkin, peeled, chopped into 1cm – cubes
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I used chicken stock cubes dissolved in hot water)
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • extra grated parmesan cheese to serve

Step 1. Heat the oven to 200°C. Toss the diced pumpkin with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them onto a baking tray lined with foil and roast for about 20 minutes in the oven until they are golden and cooked.

Step 2. Prepare the chicken stock in a saucepan and keep it warm over low heat.

Step 3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium fire, add onion and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice to the pan and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Add wine, cook and stir constantly until wine has been absorbed by the rice.

Step 4. Add a few ladles of stock, just enough to barely cover rice. Cook until stock has been absorbed. Continue cooking and stirring the rice, adding a little bit of stock at a time, cooking and stirring until the stock is absorbed, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes.

Step 5. Add the diced pumpkin to the rice and mix well. Then add the cheese and chives. Mix well. At this point, the rice should have a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the risotto with extra parmesan cheese on top.

It’s a super yummy vegetarian dish 🙂

Butternut pumpkin risotto