KUALA LUMPURl, May 11 — They say you ought to spice up your life... but what if you can’t take the heat?

Perhaps I am referring to red hot chillies or pungent Sichuan peppercorns. Perhaps I am thinking of jalapeños, habaneros or cili padi.

Or even true monsters on the Scoville scale: Ghost peppers and Infinity chillies, Naga Vipers and the Carolina Reaper. Scorched tongues and fiery bellies.

Perhaps I am just thinking of the weather. Some days it feels like a heatwave, no?

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So, no thanks. No spicing up my life for me, not for the moment.

Maybe a new kitchen mantra ought to be to add some colour to your life. That sounds safe enough.

From a simple summer salad of raspberries and Brie to a superfood salad fit for superheroes, choosing some vibrant leafy greens and berries is certainly one approach.

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This weekend, however, I am craving something heartier for my dose of jovial pigments. Which is to say, do try this roast chicken with rainbow vegetables.

Coarsely chop all the vegetables – pumpkin, purple sweet potatoes, carrots and onion.
Coarsely chop all the vegetables – pumpkin, purple sweet potatoes, carrots and onion.

The roast chicken itself is admirable, redolent of herbs, butter and lemony goodness. But the true star of the show is the tray of roasted vegetables that is a veritable rainbow: golden pumpkin, purple sweet potatoes, orange carrots and sweet, translucent onion.

We don’t have to wait for a cooling shower to beat the searing afternoon heat — or the rainbows that sometimes appear when rain meets sun.

Here is a beautiful rainbow you can make in the comfort of your own home... and what a delectable one it is too!

Squeeze some lemon juice into your herb butter mixture.
Squeeze some lemon juice into your herb butter mixture.

ROAST CHICKEN WITH RAINBOW VEGETABLES

For the vegetables, you want a coarse chop so that each piece is roughly the same size to allow for even cooking and a similar cooking time.

You may choose any hardy root vegetable of choice: yellow sweet potato instead of purple, for instance; potatoes instead of pumpkin. The idea here is to have a good variety and a mix of colours (hence the rainbow of roasted vegetables).

The lemon serves two roles: its zest helps perfume the herb butter mixture (which is our rub for the chicken). The zested lemon, sliced into quarters and placed inside the cavity of the bird, will steam as the chicken cooks, keeping it moist.

Finishing with sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary will further add to the aroma of the chicken and vegetables, I find. For larger sprigs, just tear them into smaller pieces and spread them evenly.

Resist the temptation to keep opening the oven to check on the chicken and vegetables; they will do well enough on their own for the most part.

Using a pastry brush, rub the herb butter mixture over the entire chicken.
Using a pastry brush, rub the herb butter mixture over the entire chicken.

Only if you observe part of the chicken getting darker and crisping faster than the rest — typically the breast — do you open the oven and cover that part with some aluminum foil to protect from scorching.

I find a watchful eye and a healthy dose of patience are usually all you need.

Ingredients

  • ½ pumpkin, chopped
  • 4-6 medium purple sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 whole chicken
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Method

Coarsely chop all the vegetables — pumpkin, purple sweet potatoes, carrots and onion — and place them on a large baking tray. Drizzle enough olive oil to coat and not more (the vegetables will be further moistened by the drippings from the chicken later).

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Combine the melted butter, dried mixed herbs and zest from one lemon in a bowl. Mix well.

Slice the zested lemon into quarters. Squeeze the juice from one wedge into this herb butter mixture. Set the lemon wedges aside.

Allow the roast chicken to rest before slicing.
Allow the roast chicken to rest before slicing.

Pat the whole chicken dry with a paper towel. This will help the herb butter mixture to stick more easily and allow the skin to crisp up.

Using a pastry brush, rub the herb butter mixture over the entire chicken, making sure it is well coated. Place the reserved lemon wedges into the cavity of the bird.

Season both the chicken and the vegetables generously with salt and black pepper. Place the chicken on a grill in the middle of the oven, and the tray of vegetables at the bottom.

Garnish the chicken with a sprig each of fresh thyme and rosemary. Do the same for the vegetables.

Serve the chicken with a selection of colourful roasted vegetables.
Serve the chicken with a selection of colourful roasted vegetables.

Roast until the skin of the chicken is golden brown and juices run clear when you insert a chopstick into the drumstick (the thickest part of the chicken). This should take about an hour or more, depending on the size of the chicken.

Remove the chicken from the oven and place on a tray or chopping board to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Stir the roasted vegetables with the lemony drippings from the chicken.

Serve the sliced roast chicken with a selection of roasted vegetables.

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