Recipe: Cheesy roasted vegetable bake

While I do love my meat and could never imagine giving it up, I am also a huge fan of vegetables and love coming up with different dishes.

So today instead of simply roasting a fresh selection I decided to try roasting and then baking with a cheese and tomato sauce. The result is a delicious and healthy dish – an easy way of getting in your five a day.

The dish is good served with any type of meat or fish, I dished up fishcakes and cod goujons. Or it makes a great dinner all on its own, too. Give it at try and let me know what you think.

Do you have a favourite vegetable dish you’d like to share. I’d love to hear about it, so do get in touch.

MY CHEESY ROAST VEGETABLE BAKE

Serves 8 as a side dish

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Spinach and goats cheese on top of the roast veg

1 small marrow, chopped

2 aubergines, thinly sliced

1 red onion, chopped

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 orange pepper, deseeded and chopped

4 tbsps olive oil

100g baby spinach

50g fresh basil, leaves torn off stems

150g goats cheese

125g buffalo mozzarella

2 handfuls of parmesan

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My colourful selection ready for chopping

Lay the aubergine slices on a roasting tray and coat well in 2 tbsps of olive oil. Roast at 180C for about 30 minutes, turning regularly, until they are slightly blackened. Remove and set aside.

Add the onion, peppers and marrow to the  roasting tray. Pour over the rest of the olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes until softened and slightly blackened. Remove and set aside.

Start layering the vegetables in an oven-proof dish. First, half of the ones you’ve roasted. Then top with a layer of baby spinach, half the basil and half the mozzarella and goats cheese. Season with half a tsp of salt and pour over half the passata.

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Layering the roast veg and basil

Repeat the process until all the vegetables are in the dish. Top with the Parmesan. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes until well heated through and the cheese has melted.

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A vegetable medley topped with Parmesan ready for the oven

Serve hot from the oven with your choice of fish or meat.

A roast vegetable bake means a lot of chopping to start off your dish. So it’s really important to have a good set of knives to make the job as hassle-free as possible.

This fabulous set is from KitchenAid and comes in a shiny red block. They truly make any chopping a pleasure. Find out more about the range at kitchenaid.co.uk

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The sharpest of knives from KitchenAid makes chopping so much easier

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The glossy red knife block makes for a stylish display

Top tips

You can use a wide range of vegetables in this dish – try out all your favourites. Courgettes, pumpkin, butternut or carrots would also work well. I chose my selection for their different colours.

The same applies to the cheese, you could try cheddar, gruyere or even mascarpone.

 

It’s Fresh, Fresh, Fresh at Paul Cluver

Today it’s time to explore more of the Elgin Valley. So we’re heading to Fresh for lunch. It’s a restaurant on the Paul Cluver wine estate that offers country-style cooking. There’s a large and abundant vegetable garden on site which is a major source of inspiration for the chef who cooks with seasonal ingredients. Sounds good to me.

On summer days the tables are laid out under the trees on the lawn which sounds lovely. The day we visited it was raining – I never complain about life-giving rain, you just make another plan. So we had to eat inside. Which turned out to be lovely. There isn’t much seating and tables are communal (a chance to make new friends, perhaps) and the place has a relaxed, warm feel to it which the welcome accentuates.

The enthusiasm of the owner Niki Hall-Jones (her husband’s the chef) as she describes the dishes soon has your mouth watering. And today she was waxing lyrical about the myriad tomatoes growing in the garden. Great news for me, I seriously love tomatoes. So I didn’t have to think hard about ordering the Caprese salad – a selection of their Heirloom tomatoes served with Buffalo Ridge Mozzarella (also produced down the road) and garden basil.

I love Caprese salad and have tasted it in restaurants all over the world (well, quite a few anyway) and this was seriously up there. One of my absolute favourite dishes, as long as  each of the three ingredients is top, top quality – and today they were.

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Caprese salad to dream of

And then time for more tomatoes – oven roasted and made into soup with basil pesto. It’s hard to imagine a better tomato soup, bursting with flavour and health.

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The freshest of intense tomato soup

On to mains. The confit duck came with char-grilled aubergines and tomatoes, wilted garden greens and a glaze of tomato chilli jam. It was also aubergine season so the veg flavours were amazing and the duck  perfectly crispy while also being moist. And tomato chilli jam is a wonderful thing. Note to self – make some tomato chilli jam – and soon.

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Flavoursome duck on a bed of the freshest veg

And then time for some pie. Elgin free-range chicken, leek and mushroom topped with a perfectly puffy, glossy, golden pastry. A good pie is never to be under valued and this one was polished off with relish.

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Comforting chicken pie for a rainy day

While we were enjoying our lunch, Niki came over and said as we clearly loved tomatoes so much she would like to give us a bag from their garden. I simply couldn’t refuse. Here’s the cornucopia of the little treasures in their different shapes, sizes and colours. Yum!

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A plate of tomato heaven

This restaurant is so aptly named – there’s no doubt that ingredients are the freshest of the fresh. And they’re all beautifully cooked too, what a perfect combo.

Oh and Paul Cluver’s wine is also wonderful. We enjoyed a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with our lunch, having had a sneaky tasting beforehand and left with…you’ve guessed it…another case to enjoy at home. So loving those wine tasting (and buying) lunches. We will miss them.

Fresh is just off the N2 on the Paul Cluver Wine Estate in Elgin.