I concocted this recipe this evening largely because I had a load of random bits in my fridge that needed using up, but I enjoyed the result so much that I feel the need to write it up for the world. Yes, the world. It was that good. Think of a cross between a potato gratin and a cauliflower cheese, then make it much more exciting, and this bake is pretty much what you get. The cheese sauce is taken to a whole new level thank to the onions, and all the veg work really nicely together – I imagine you could substitute pretty much whatever you have, so feel free to get creative – I’m thinking parsnip would be delish. It’s a great way of using up whatever you may have lurking at the back of your fridge. I really like frankfurters, and think they complement the veg delightfully. However, if you wanted to serve this as a veggie side dish to a piece of meat, just leave them out.
As I was sort of making it up as I went along, the quantities are slightly guessed, but to be honest it’s the sort of dish that doesn’t really require exact measurements anyway. For the sauce in particular it’s all a bit of guesswork, but you can tell when it gets to the right consistency. This meal looks delightfully colourful on the plate, and is the sort of thing that impresses people, despite how simple it is to make. I would say this serves two people as a main dish, and maybe four as a side. But I suppose it depends on how hungry you are! Comfort food at its best, if you ask me.
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into slices of about 1cm deep
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into 1cm thick circles
1 large handful of Brussels sprouts, washed and chopped in half
1/2 a cauliflower, broken up into little florets
1/2 a red onion, cut into segments50g butter, plus extra for greasing
2 heaped tbsp flour
350g cheese – I used a mix of Cheddar and Red Leicester, grated
3 frankfurters, chopped into smallish bits
1. Preheat the oven and grill to 180C and grease an ovenproof dish. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the sweet potato, carrot and sprouts. Boil for about 10 minutes, adding the cauliflower for the last 7, then drain.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Fry the onions in a pan with a bit of oil until they’re slightly brown, stirring constantly. Turn the heat right down, then add the butter and melt gently. Add a bit of the flour, then some milk, and keep stirring whilst adding the rest until lumps dissolve and it starts to thicken. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese until you have a smooth sauce – to make it thinner add more milk, and to thicken add more flour. Season with salt and pepper if you like.
3. Spoon all the veg into the dish, add the frankfurters and pour the cheese and onion sauce over the top, spreading it out evenly (when in the oven, the sauce all seeps down through the veg and it’s divine.) Scatter the rest of the grated cheese on top, add a bit more seasoning and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until bubbling and golden. Dig in!