Vegetable Bake

This is easy and very tasty especially for a cold snowy day like today.  Also easy to adapt for vegans or those who just can’t manage even one meal without some meat.

Vegetable Bake

Start off by par boiling some waxy potatoes.  In a separate pan par boil some carrots.
Then make a leek sauce by frying some chopped leaks in butter (or whatever substitute you use) until they are soft.  Add a tablespoon of plain flour and cook through.  Add milk gradually until the sauce reaches the panda stage (that is just after it becomes too thick to slice).  Continue thinning the sauce with vegetable stock (if you aren’t using your own use the water from your carrots to make up the granules or cube) until you have a thick sauce.  Add some dry mustard and plenty of freshly ground pepper.
At this stage you need to add any hard vegetables into the sauce such as carrots, simmer gently for five minutes.  Now add cauliflower florets broken into small bits.  Simmer for a further three minutes.  Add the par boiled potatoes and plenty of chopped parsley stirring carefully so as not to break up the vegetables.
At this stage you can add (vegan) cheese to the sauce if you wish, then take off the heat and stir in green beans cut into about inch long pieces.  Transfer to a baking dish and cook for about 20-30 mins in a medium hot oven, sprinkle with extra cheese if desired.

Alternatives:
For the meat eater add strips of a gammon steak which has been previously cooked at the stage when potatoes are added or serve with lamb chops.
To make it go further or to ring the changes make a herb scone topping.
You could miss out the potatoes when using the herb scone topping, or if you wanted to serve some other potato with it.
You can use any vegetable you like root vegetables are best.  Celery and broccoli affect the final dish so I avoid them. Broad beans, brussel sprouts and butternut squash work very well.  You can use whatever mixture of vegetables you want or have.
If you are using left-over vegetables just pour over the sauce over them before grilling rather than putting it in the oven.
If you want to make it a bit more summery avoid the root vegetables and put sliced tomatoes and strips of grilled peppers on top.
You can use onion rather than leeks but try to ensure they are not strong ones.
To make it extra special use Gouda cheese and some white wine in the sauce and serve it in individual gratin dishes with a herb and crumb topping.

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