For me food is a dance. It is a beautiful balance, an exquisite, sensory tango expressed in flavours, textures, temperatures, aromas and other tantilising sensations. I love the creativity of food. But mostly I love having people to enjoy it with.
My partner is away for the week. Usually such an event is accompanied with some rather uninspired kitchening. Who can be bothered with the effort when I don’t have the pleasure of observing another’s enjoyment (Little Star is currently enjoying raw food to the near exclusion of anything else – not that I’m complaining)?
Though this week I find myself heeding my own advice. After all, isn’t my own enjoyment just as important as that of the people in my life? So why not cook just for me?
Being on my own with Little Star I decided my week needed to be easy. I wanted a big batch of something I wouldn’t get sick of that would still deliver a wide variety of nutrients to fuel and nourish my week. Hence I decided to action and idea I’ve been toying with – Butternut Pumpkin and Kale Med-Veg Stack.
Ooops! First piece already gone!
Here’s what I used:
- 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise
- 2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 large butternut pumpkin, sliced lengthwise
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 small red chillies (I like things hot! – use fewer chillies, de-seed them, or omit all together if you prefer), finely diced
- 2 cans of diced tomatoes
- 2 cans of brown lentils, drained and thoroughly rinsed
- 1 can of canellini beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
- small handful of fresh oregano, roughly chopped
- small handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste
- freshly ground salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch of tuscan kale, finely chopped
- 1 tub of Tofutti cream “cheese” (omit for gluten free – it’s still yummy!)
- sprinkling of savoury yeast (nutritional yeast)
- extra virgin olive oil
Here’s what I did:
I started by preheating the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Whilst that’s warming I sliced the eggplant, zucchini and butternut pumpkin reasonably thinly. They do shrink a little whilst they cook so you don’t want them too thin, but they do need to cover at least a whole layer of your baking dish. I baked wayyy extra veggies – this way I can throw them on a pizza base at the end of the week – yum!
I spread them out on baking trays, drizzled with a little of the extra virgin olive oil, and put them in the oven. It doesn’t matter too much if they overlap a little – if anything they should be just under cooked. The eggplant only needed about 5 mins, the other veggies just a little longer. Alternatively you could grill them on a griddle pan or barbecue.
Okay, so it’s true – I do have a Thermomix. But you do not need one to use this recipe! A food processor can help you chop and the sauce can be cooked on the stove. I put the onion, garlic and chilies in the Thermy bowl Speed 4/3sec so they were finely chopped. I then sauteed them varoma/speed 1/3.5 mins in some olive oil.
Next the tomatoes go in and I simmered this at 100/reverse speed 1/15mins with the simmering basket in place of the MC. Basically this allows the sauce to thicken and the flavours to combine before I add the lentils (I have a terrible track record of lentils in the Thermomix – they turn to mush).
I then added the lentils, beans, herbs and nutmeg, with a little salt and pepper. I continued to cook for another 10 mins and let the flavours do their work!
Once everything’s done it is time to layer everything into a large baking dish. I started with a little of the lentil sauce on the bottom, then layered the vegetables in. I laid the eggplant in diagonally, then the zucchini on the reverse diagonal, and finally the butternut pumpkin more or less straight. This should help everything hold together on the plate later.
I topped the veggies off with sauce, kale, then a final layer of sauce covered with dolops of Tofutti and a sprinkling of savoury yeast flakes. It looks like a lot of kale, but it reduces significantly in the oven.
This is a great one to prepare ahead of time and placed in a preheated oven (180 degrees C) when ready. Cook until bubbling up at the sides and serve with mash or a lovely garden salad.