I can’t believe that we haven’t published this recipe before! This dish became one of our staple dishes during the 2020-21 UK lockdown period. It works well cooked in a conventional oven as you would expect with a dish from Nigel Slater. It is however so much better when cooked over charcoal on the Big Green Egg! The recipe follows the original Slater recipe quite closely. We do usually add some celeriac to it in place of some of the swede though. The other change we make is in the way we prepare the vegetables. Normally in a dish like this we would attempt to get the pieces of vegetable to be a similar size so they cook in a similar time. Here though we do the opposite, and look for both large and small pieces. This is to broaden the range of textures of the final dish. It is so often the range of textures I miss in a plant based dish, rather than the taste of anything meaty. Our third ‘tweak’ is to cook it at a slightly lower temperature but for slightly longer. This seems to just give a favourable edge to the caramelisation we get on the vegetables.
The first thing to do is to set up the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking at around or just below 180C. We have also cooked the dish at around 160C without the platesetter in place. Cooking like this gives really good colour on the vegetables. It does, however, require more attention and more regular tossing of the vegetables.
The recipe works best with red onions. These were peeled, cut in half and then into thick segments lengthways. Around 300-400g of swede and a similar about of celeriac was peeled and cut into the size of ‘chunky chips’. These mimic the size of the carrots, some thin and some thicker around 5-8cm long. The parsnips were peeled and cut into similar size pieces. The 4 carrots were also peeled and cut into similar pieces. All the vegetables were tossed in some olive oil and put into a roasting tin. For this we use the large Tefal Ingenio Sauté pan which makes a great roasting tin. It also has the advantage that you can attach the handle and toss the vegetable when you need to.
We have used both smoked and fresh garlic, and as we are cooking over charcoal we have not found any great advantage of using the smoked garlic that Nigel Slater suggests. The top of the garlic head was cut off and the head was tucked into the bed of vegetables. We tucked in sprigs of fresh thyme around the dish and poured a little more oil over the vegetables. The dish was roasted for 25-30 minutes before tossing the vegetables over and roasting for a further 20-25 minutes.
After 50-60 minutes, the vegetables should be softening and taking on some colour. At this point we removed the garlic, tossed the vegetables again and then mixed in the mustard seeds and the fennel seeds. The EGG was closed again and the vents opened a little to do the final 20 minutes of the roast at a slightly higher temperature.
The garlic that had been removed was squeezed out of its outer skin into a glass bowl and broken up with the back of a spoon. The feta cheese was crumbled into the bowl and mixed with the garlic ready to dress the final dish just before serving.
Remove the roasted vegetables from the Big Green Egg and gently toss with some of the feta and garlic mix. Simply plate up and then sprinkle with the remaining feta and garlic and serve.
So why is it better on the EGG than in a conventional oven. I think it is simply that even with the platesetter in place there is more ‘bottom heat’ in the EGG and so the base of the heavy pan has more opportunity to develop those characteristic ‘bottom of the roasting tin’ flavours
………………. give it a try and see what you think!
Variations: don’t feel constrained by the mix and proportion of vegetables used here. feel free to alter the amounts and try others too
Baked root vegetables with feta cheese
Beautifully caramelised root vegetables offset with the tang of Feta cheese
- 2 Red Onions
- 300-600g swede
- 100-300g celeriac
- 2 parsnips
- 4 carrots
- 1 head of garlic (possibly smoked)
- 1 tbs fennel seeds
- 1 tbs mustard seeds
- 6 bushy sprigs of thyme
- 6 tbsp of olive oil.
- Step 1 Set up the Big Green Egg for indirect cooking at around or just below 180C.
- Step 2 Peel the red onions, cut in half and then into thick segments lengthways. Peel the swede and the celeriac – (around 600g in total). Cut into the size of ‘chunky chips’. Peel the parsnips and cut into similar size pieces and similarly with the 4 carrots. Toss all the vegetables in some olive oil in the roasting tin. Cut the top off the garlic and tuck into the bed of vegetables. Tuck in the thyme in a similar way. Pour a little oil over the vegetables.
- Step 3 Roast in the BGE for 25-30 minutes then toss and roast for a further 20 minutes. It may be worth tossing the veg occasionally in addition
- Step 4 After 50-60 minutes, the vegetables should be softening and taking on some colour. Remove the garlic, toss the vegetables again and mix in the mustard seeds and the fennel seeds. Close theEGG, open the vents a little and roast for final 20 minutes at a slightly higher temperature.
- Step 5 In this last 20 minute period squeeze the softened garlic out of its outer skin into a glass bowl and break up with the back of a spoon. Crumble the Feta cheese into the bowl and mixed with the garlic.
- Step 6 Remove the roasted vegetables and gently toss with some of the feta and garlic mix. Plate up and sprinkle with the remaining feta and garlic to serve.