Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baked Vegetables

Back in the '80s in India, whenever people had parties, it was time for them to display culinary chops by way of serving unusual dishes from other cuisines. Those were the years characterized by menus which would have rajma chawal and paneer side by side with a Chinese Chop Suey, a dessert of agar-agar-laced China Grass or the ubiquitous baked vegetables, amongst the few households that owned such an esoteric piece of equipment as the oven. The baked vegetables would typically be a mix of potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and peas in white sauce topped with Amul processed cheese. I personally never liked the dish as I found it limp and the mix unappetizing.

Today's menus take in a much larger territory and typically try and serve everything from one type of cuisine, unless it's a buffet or a multi-cuisine banquet. So it's far more done to find a meal of Chinese, Thai or regional Indian cuisines at dinner parties, and baked vegetables, if served are in a context of similar dishes. In fact it's quite rare to find baked vegetables on any menu because they are passe. But done well, they can be delicious and interesting.

At the vegetable market over the weekend I found onion flowers and leeks which were reasonably priced, as well as Brussels sprouts which I love served baked with cheese. So last night when we had guests over for dinner, I thought it might be fun to try a combination of all three vegetables in a baked dish. The mixture turned out really well, though if I made it again I'd increase the quantity of Brussels sprouts, as otherwise they can tend to get lost in the mix. The sweet, meltingly soft roast onions are a wonderful contrast to the slight bitterness and chewiness of Brussels sprouts. This is definitely something to try again.


1 pound onion flowers, cut into inch-long sticks

1 pound Brussels sprouts (I used about 100 gms yesterday and found it less than I wanted), cut into half cm rounds

500 gms leeks, cut into 1 cm thick rounds

1 tsp vegetable oil

200 gms light cream

½ cup milk

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Mix the milk, cheese, cream, salt and pepper well. Roast the onion flowers in 1 tsp vegetable oil until wilted and soft but still vibrant green. Layer an oven-proof dish with the onion flowers, followed with the Brussels sprouts and then the leeks. Pour over a quarter of the cream-cheese mixture. Continue layering until all the vegetables are used up and end with a top layer of the cheese-milk-cream mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour, checking from time to time, until the top layer is lightly browned. Serve hot


Sonia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sonia said...

I have given up on baked veggies, last couple of times, my white sauce was positively yucky!! But your way is easier, I used to put maida in butter and keep stirring and put milk and what not and it was getting super messed up!

Btw what are onion flowers?

bird's eye view said...

Try making white sauce with a tiny amount of warm milk and butter and then adding more milk to get it gravy-like, otherwise it comes out all lumpy. I always like to add some mustard to the white sauce to spike it a little. But typically I don't like white sauce so i prefer this - easier too. Onion flowers are the young stalks of onions, complete with white flowers - looks a bit like asparagus but thinner stalks.

Sonia said...

I am going to try your recipe for my Thanksgiving dinner :) Will let you know how it turns out

Elliott Broidy said...

Looks delicious AND easy.