Chef and co owner at Temple Croft B&B
Paul says: "This dish is vegetarian, very easy to make, and uses a few things you might already have lying around in your cupboard/fridge. It also provides plenty of five-a-day-type nutrition!"
1. Set the oven to 200C (180 fan, gas 6). Prick or slash the sweet potato skins a few times and bake them on a tray in the centre of the oven for about 40-45mins until tender. When cooked, you should be able to penetrate the flesh easily with a sharp knife. Remove from the oven, cover with foil or a tea towel and leave to rest for 5-10 mins.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion, carrot, celery (and bay leaf if using) and a large pinch of salt, and cook for 3-4 mins until the vegetables are just beginning to soften. Add the turnip or swede and cook for a further 4-5 mins, or until all the vegetables are turning golden and beginning to brown a little at the edges.
3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, followed by the tomatoes (break them up if using plum tomatoes), spices and herbs. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 5-6 mins, stirring occasionally. If the mix looks a bit dry, moisten with a small splash of the stock or water.
4. When cool enough to handle, cut the sweet potatoes lengthways, scrape the flesh out of the skins and stir well into to the mix, breaking up any larger pieces, along with the beans, lentils and stock, stir well and simmer for another 7-8 mins or so. Stir regularly to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Test pieces of carrot and turnip; they should be tender but still with a bit of bite.
5. Turn down the heat, stir through 70g of the cheese and cook for 2-3 minutes until all the cheese has melted. The consistency should be like a thick cake mixture.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste, then spoon the mixture into a lightly greased oven-proof dish or casserole, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs (if you are using them) and remaining cheese and return to the oven 30-35 mins, or until the cheese is melted and browned on top.
Serve with a green salad or steamed green vegetables (chips or fried potatoes optional!) It also makes a hearty and nutritious side dish for sausages, burgers or grilled fish.
When cooled, the bake can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
Paul is the chef and co-owner at Temple Croft B&B. Situated at the back of the Bluebell/Alston House. He and his partner Amanda mainly cater for cyclists who wish to stay a while in Alston. But every few months they open up their house to special dinners where locals can come and sample Paul's amazing food. Well worth the visit.
Temple Croft B&B
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1 large onion, finely chopped – 25p
2 or 3 sweet potatoes, about 500-600g – 80p
1 large carrot, chopped in ½in dice – 5p
150g turnip or swede, chopped in ½in dice – 30p
1 x stick celery, finely chopped – 6p
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed (double up if the garlic is small) – 25p per bulb.
If you can, source your garlic from a greengrocer or market stall to see what you are buying. You’ll probably pay a bit more but it’s worth it. Supermarket garlic can be very small, old or plain bad.
1 heaped tsp dried mixed herbs – £1.10, 18g jar
1 bayleaf (optional) - £1.10, 3g jar
1/2 tsp ground cumin - £1.10, 43g jar
1 ½ tsp ground sweet paprika (use hot paprika if you prefer things a bit warmer) - £1.10, 52g jar
½ tsp chilli/cayenne powder (optional) - £1.10, 50g jar
1 x large can (400g) green or brown lentils, drained – 59p
1 x large can (400g) beans (pinto, borlotti, haricot, cannellini, butter or kidney beans are all fine - whatever you have to hand) drained – 59p
1 x large can (400g) plum or chopped tomatoes – 45p
100g medium cheddar cheese, grated (vegans can leave this out) - £1.00.
100ml vegetable stock, or water
1tbs olive, or vegetable, oil
Salt and ground black pepper
Dry breadcrumbs (optional)
No one likes slimy mushrooms or mouldy berries. To keep your expensive supermarket-bought mushrooms and berries fresher for longer, first remove the cellophane and take the mushrooms or berries out of the plastic carton as soon as you get them home………….