Friday, 30 October 2015

Balliol Veggie Bake

Now this recipe takes me back, my daughter was very young and it was one of her favourite things to eat. When grandma joined us for dinner she would often help herself to more of the molten cheese topping than might be considered fair and my daughter would watch her like a hawk as her grandmother dug down rather sideways more than vertically, scooping out more of the toasty cheese. I usually made up for it by transferring some of the topping from my portion to hers, smiles all around.
This recipe is ideal when you need to feed a number of people, easily 6-8 hungry souls in this case, on a tight budget. If you establish a good relationship with your local market greengrocer you'll find he or she will be happy to help out with vegetables at the end of the trading day that can be sold more cheaply, disfigured or uneven size for instance. Where better than the excellent covered market in Oxford.
Tinned plum tomatoes which are a store cupboard essential and almost always cheaper than pre-chopped, boost the savoury flavour. Personally I would never use fresh tomatoes unless you grow them and have a glut. The list of vegetables below is what I had available, but this can be made using a far greater variety, I had some cauliflower left over from the other day and I found edemame beans on offer in the supermarket yesterday. Use whatever you have available, but do begin with garlic and either onion or leek. Roughly 750g of mixed vegetables.

For this recipe you will need;
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
100g of onions
150g of potatoes
200g of carrots
100g of red pepper
100g of cauliflower
100g of edemame beans
1 tin of plum tomatoes
100g of red lentils
200g of bulgur wheat
1 tablespoon of bouillon powder or other vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of light olive oil
200g of cheddar or other hard cheese.

 In a large oven proof casserole, begin by gently frying the chopped garlic in the olive oil. Add the onions and after a minute or two add the remaining vegetables having cut them up into chunks. Add the tomatoes having squished them with your hands (a very satisfying job). Fill the empty tin with water three times and add. Add the stock powder, pepper and red lentils, simmer for ten minutes before adding the bulgur wheat, stirring to evenly distribute. Place the casserole with its lid, in a medium oven 160C and bake for an hour. Take the casserole out, remove the lid and sprinkle the cheese on top. Return the casserole to the oven without its lid, having turned the heat up to 200, 15 minutes should see the cheese thoroughly melted, bubbling and brown. Serve with a crisp salad, filling, delicious and above all inexpensive.

This basic recipe for what is in essence a soup thickened with lentils and bulgur to form a bake, can be varied considerably by the use of different vegetables but also spices and herbs of your choice. The stock can be varied, a great opportunity to rinse out the last of a jar of pesto or similar sauce and added to the 3 tins of water.
This dish is light on protein but you can always increase the amount of cheese if you wish                                                              


  1. This looks as though it will "hit the spot". I'm not totally sure what that means, but it generally seems to be said on radio or television when something meets with approval. (Let's hope my assumption is correct). I think this may well turn up on the supper table at some time during the next week.

    I need to be up early in the morning, so I'll wish you a good night!


  2. Hello and thank you for leaving a comment. Funnily enough I defrosted a portion of this yesterday for my dinner. I wasn't sure what it was initially, UFOs (unidentified frozen objects) but having defrosted a portion of bread & butter pudding first by mistake I found the bake. I can confirm it freezes well and I think labelling is still probably a good idea, best Tôbi.