Friday, 26 October 2012

More Vegetables - this is NOT a beige dinner!

Hmm... am definitely on a veggie kick at the moment! There's a couple of reasons for this - firstly, there's that recession thing - we blame everything on it, but honestly, we have a five week month in this house this month (who in the hell invented that evilness?!) and you can get a whole load of veggies for the price of a couple of chicken fillets. Secondly, it's winter and there is something warming and hearty about these dinners, they are lovely. And lastly - what could be healthier? I am definitely on a little health buzz at the moment; Christmas is rapidly approaching and I want to be able to eat what I want over the festive season, so that means keeping an eye on things in October and November. And then there's that "Significant Birthday" in early December... I want to look as good as possible (and, to that end, I will be attempting my first ever 10km race the week before - gulp! I can't tell you how big a deal this is, as I am easily the least sporty girl in Ireland... I remember once persuading my PE teacher that I couldn't do PE that day because my friend had an ingrown toenail removed and needed looking after!).

Gorgeous vegetables
So last night, it was time for a veggie crumble. I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to it. I even had so much fun shopping for my vegetables - Lidl came up trumps on most fronts (and it really helps that my DinnerBabies really love the local Lidl; the underground carpark is extrely echo-ey, so it's known as "echo-Lidl" in our house, and then there's the added lure of the freshly baked croissant they get to walk around the shop with - they are a bit disgusted there are no Bavarian pretzels in the last few weeks!) and then our local greengrocer topped up the things I forgot / couldn't get.

Nearly there - crumble mix to the rear
The recipe comes originally from a book called "Cranks Recipe Book", via my Welsh friend Fiona - apparently it was a staple of hers in university (undoubtedly again because it is cheap). This is a great recipe, because you can adapt it to what you have or what you fancy. I didn't bother with peppers, I didn't think that would work, and forgot to add the potatoes even though they were sitting beside me on the counter, as you can see from the photo. It really could've done with something green too - Himself suggested leek, but that's only because he really dislikes broccoli, I think broccoli would have been perfect. It would also make a good side dish with a roast dinner - particularly a rich beef. But it is a very filling meal in itself (even more so if you remember the spuds!).
Anyhow, here's the master recipe, you can add what you like. The main recipe serves 6 - we did a small one for two last night, so I'll give you the veg quantities for that in brackets as well. And again, crumble topping freezes easily and can used more or less from frozen, so it's handy to make a large amount and keep the excess in the freezer for another occasion. 

Vegetable Crumble

For the topping:

  • 100g butter
  • 175g 100% wholemeal flour (I use white or mix or white & wholemeal, as I find all wholemeal too heavy)
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese
  • 50g chopped mixed nuts (I only had hazelnuts last night, it was perfect)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

For the base:
  • 675g mixed root veg, chopped into cubes (for 2 of us last night, I used 2 carrots, 1 parsnip, 400g butternut squash, 400g turnip, 2 smallish onions - diced, 3 cloves of garlic - crushed, I meant to add 2 potatoes and also a handful of mushrooms - 5 or 6)
  • 50g butter
  • 25g wholemeal flour (again, I used white)
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 140ml milk
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Begin by making the crumble topping - rub (or grate) the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the cheese, nuts and seeds and leave to one side
  2. Chop the vegetables - you want them all to be in similar sort of cubed size. Dice the onion and finely chop the garlic
  3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sauté the onion gently, til translucent. Add the chopped vegetables and cook over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes
  4. Stir in the flour, then add the remaining ingredients, then bring the whole thing to the boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender
  5. Transfer everything to an ovenproof dish, cover with the crumble topping and press in loosely (you don't want it too compacted)
  6. Bake in an oven preheated to 180º C for about 30 minutes, until golden
I would think that you could also easily flash-fry the vegetables, then stick them in the oven with a generous amount of fresh thyme and rosemary (good strong robust flavours) to roast for 20 minutes at 180º C until tender, and then proceed to make the sauce with the roasted veg - so step 3 above, melt the butter and add all the veg, without the need to either cook the veg for 10 minutes in the pan nor simmer it for 15 minutes after, just bring to the boil and then transfer to an ovenproof dish, top and bake and it would be even more delicious.

Ready for the oven
Out of the oven

And the best news is, there is even a small portion left over my lunch today - yum... And it keeps me away from the bread / dreaded carbs. I guess I shouldn't have finished off with a toffee square, then?!

Ready to eat!

Enjoy - and enjoy that slightly smug feeling you get from knowing you've hit your five-a-day.

Sarah xx

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