Following the positive feedback to my veggie bean chilli post which inspired many of you to take your life in your hands and turn veggie for meal or two, I thought I’d take you through another veggie meal of mine – behold Peter’s Veggie Bake!
Whoever came up with the “eat five portions of fruit and veg a day” advice neglected to mention that it’s actually easier to do this, and far tastier, if all five portions are in the same meal. So with this in mind…
Step 1: Gather your ingredients. You’ll definitely need cornflower, salt, olive oil, milk, butter, cheese, some old bread, garlic, and every type of vegetable you can lay your hands on. I’m using cabbage, courgettes, carrots, broccoli, squash, and parsnips. Root vegetables are especially good in this dish.
By the way, did you know parsnips are higher in carbs than potatoes? Who knew. Anyway…
Step 2: ‘Grease’ a large oven proof dish with some olive oil (or butter), then chop your veg and layer inside the dish. Don’t forget several cloves of (roughly chopped) garlic, and maybe some ginger.
Step 3: Wait! I almost forgot the chilli! Blimey that was close. You definitely want to get some chilli in there. Why? What do you mean why? Because chillies are great that’s why!
(You’ll notice the broccoli and courgettes haven’t been chopped yet. I ran out of space in the dish. That often happens.)
Step 4: Drizzle a little oil on the veg. Remember to season. Maybe get your fingers in there and give it all a really good mix up.
Step 5: Right then! Time to start upsetting Della. Bring on the breadcrumbs! Don’t buy packet breadcrumbs (yuk) – instead save bits of old bread in the freezer, and grind them to crumbs in the food processor. I like to add a few sprigs of rosemary at this stage. And oh yes, another chilli.
Step 6: Darn it, I forgot the cheese (sorry Della). Take a few chunks of cheese and grind those in with the crumbs. Also, add a little seasoning.
Step 7: Grate a handful of the cheese that’s left (sorry Della) and put to one side with the breadcrumbs and the veg.
Step 8: Prepare a white sauce. Take a pint of (semi) skimmed milk (cow’s milk or an alternative), add a knob (just a knob) of butter (sorry Della), and warm slowly, adding a couple of teaspoons of cornflour every thirty seconds and whisking continuously. When the mixture begins to stiffen take off the heat immediately.
Step 9: Add the grated cheddar cheese.
Step 10: Pour over the veg.
Step 11: Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. If you have any left over put them in a bag and store in the freezer for next time.
Step 12: Cover the whole thing with foil (shiny side down). Bake for an hour and a half at around 170 degrees Celsius (Gas mark 3). The longer you bake the better it gets – just try not to burn the top.
Step 13: And a little later on this is what emerges… it should be bubbling with deliciousness
Step 14: Use a ladle to serve as many portions as necessary. At this stage the ‘bake’ doesn’t have much solidity. It tastes utterly amazing though. Whilst you tuck into a bowlful allow the rest to cool, then cover the roasting dish and transfer to the fridge.
Step 15: The following day remove the roasting dish from the fridge and cut the remaining bake into portions. You’ll noticed that it’s ‘set’ over night. It’ll also taste even better! Reheat what you want to eat right now in the oven for five or ten minutes, the remaining portions can be individually wrapped in foil and be frozen (thaw before reheating).
If your bake looks lonely on the plate, try serving with a salad (don’t groan – it works). My salad (pictured here) consists of lettuce, tomato, silverskin onions, and pickled jalapeño peppers. Of course. Don’t forget to dress your salad.
Now it’s going to come as no surprise to some of you that my esteemed co-author almost had heart failure when she saw the list of ingredients: butter, oil, cheese, breadcrumbs… It was almost enough to put her off her fat free dessert (though not enough to prevent her from clearing the plate when I made this dish for her), and once again one of my recipes was called into question. To which I offer the following defence:
Firstly, the point here is not to create a fat free meal, but to help you break your reliance on meat and convenience foods, and re-introduce you to vegetables which are, by their very nature, very low in fats, fabulously good for you, and lip-smackingly delicious… if you use plenty of them.
Secondly, if you’re truly worried about the calorie count I encourage you to use Della’s fat free cooking principles to turn this dish into a slightly more wholesome, guilt-free version.
I’d value your feedback. Feel free to add comments in the box below or on our facebook page.