Dish of the Day: The Reluctant Vegetarian’s Super Simple Five Veg Bake
There’s something about the simple things in life (and the kitchen) that makes me really happy and this cheesy classic is one of them. Roasted vegetables in herbs fresh from the garden (or the supermarket) with an indulgent cheese sauce plus the golden, crispy topping are a winning combination. Is there anything else quite as nice? Although I didn’t mop up the leftovers with bread I enviously watched the vegetarian boyfriend tuck right into half a crusty white loaf… it was a hard decision to not join him and I’ll happy admit it was a real test of character. Try this dish and indulge as much as you fancy – you’ll still be accounting for at least two of your five a day!
Cooking / Preparation Time – 45 mins
1 x Courgette – Finely sliced
1 x Medium sized aubergine – Finely sliced
1 x Large white onion – Finely sliced into rings
1 x Large tomato – The firmer the better and finely sliced
1 x Potato – Finely sliced into circles and thoroughly rinsed
3 x Cloves of garlic – Crushed and finely sliced
Rock Salt / Black pepper
1 Tsp x Dried or fresh oregano
1 Tsp x Fresh thyme – Finely sliced
Generous drizzle of olive oil or rapeseed oil
50g x Butter
3x Tbsp of Plain flour
3/4 x Pint of milk
2 x Tsp of Dijon mustard
Generous sprinkle of rock salt, white and black pepper
50g/70g x Gruyere (vegetarian) – Finely grated
Start by washing and slicing your vegetables so that they’re all similar widths and season with salt, pepper, fresh or dried herbs plus the garlic and oil before you start to pack them into your dish, this makes for an evenly seasoned dish. I’ve managed to cram in two layers of vegetables in my dish but one layer is fine depending on what size dish you have to hand. You’ll get more crispy cheese topping the thinner and larger your oven dish is if that appeals! How could it not?
Start cooking the vegetables in a preheated oven on 190 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes before adding on the cheese sauce.
To make up the cheese sauce simply melt the butter in a pan on a medium heat, once melted add in the salt and flour and throughly mix for a couple of minutes before you gradually add in the milk. The mixture may seem stiff initially but on adding the milk and whisking this will turn into a thick, creamy sauce. Be patient. Once the sauce has come together add in half of the grated cheese. The finer it’s grated the quicker it will dissolve. Next add in the mustard and both the white and black pepper, once it’s all looking delicious, smooth and glossy have a try and adjust seasoning accordingly. I’m a white pepper lover so always tend to go heavy on this.
Once the vegetables have been cooking for 30 minutes pour over your thick cheese sauce and sprinkle over the remaining cheese so you end up with the perfect crispy cheese topping. Place it back in the oven and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes until golden on top. If you need to cheat or you’re feeling impatient then get it under the grill for 5 minutes.
Serve solo or with salad on the side and a hunk of bread if you’re not counting the carbs! For me this one is best kept simple!
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