Last week I was away from home for a few days on business, staying in an hotel. Why is it that hotel food seems to concentrate entirely on meat and omit vegetables altogether? In the hotel scenario, vegetables are at best an afterthought - a garnish, or something you have "with" your meal. When I got home I was seriously craving for veg, so I decided to make a meat-free meal with as many veg as I could muster...
"I need a mega veg-fest", I said. "That's OK" said Jane, "have a look in the fridge..." While I had been away our latest veg-box had been delivered, and with me having been away half of the previous week's box was still available too. We had carrots, parsnips, Swede turnip, squash, cabbage, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, celeriac, artichokes.... etc!
My chosen dish (whose name I invented, btw) gradually evolved into this Gardener's Pie thing. It's similar to a Shepherd's Pie, except that the meat is replaced with vegetables, and I enhanced the mashed potato topping with the inclusion of cheese and parsley.
This is how I did it: (I'm deliberately not mentioning quantities. Adjust these to suit your own requirements!)
- I prepared a huge quantity of veg: carrots, celeriac, parsnips, Swede, squash, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, garlic.
- Cooked the onions in a little oil, until soft and translucent, but not brown
- Added the veg to the pan, along with about a litre of veg stock and some fresh Thyme leaves
- Simmered the veg until just tender and then drained them, reserving the remaining stock
- Cooked some potatoes and mashed them with a little butter and milk, adding some grated Cheddar cheese and some chopped parsley
- Allowed everything to cool
- Put the cooked veg into a large ovenproof dish, and added a tub of homemade tomato sauce (from the freezer)
- Covered the veg with a thick layer of mashed potato
- Covered the potato layer with a generous amount of finely-grated Parmesan cheese
- Re-heated the dish in a medium oven for approx 30 mins
- Turned up the oven to maximum temperature for another 20 mins to brown the topping
- Served it (with some extra broccoli, just to add more colour and a different texture!)
I also used the reserved stock / cooking liquour to make a "gravy". I just added to it a little slaked cornflour and then boiled the liquid until it had reduced to the required consistency. It was surprisingly nice. Concentrated essence of vegetable!
This one is definitely joining my repertoire. Next time I do it, I may accompany it with a "garnish" of meat!Crispy bacon would go well with this, or a pork chop, or even some Black Pudding.