A TIAN OF ROASTED VEGETABLES

A delicious melange of Mediterranean vegetables like aubergine, courgette, tomatoes in a herbed tomato sauce topped with crisp, golden potatoes. What’s not to like! Baked and served in mini gratin dishes or ramekins, it makes a stylish main course for vegans or vegetarian guests.

The veggies and sauce can be made and chilled up to 2 days ahead but only addd the potato topping up to 24 hours before the final baking and serving. Refrigerating potatoes converts some of their white carbs into resistant starch, a type of fibre which causes less of a spike in your blood sugar than if eaten immediately after cooking.

2 medium carrots
1 red onion
1 small sweet potato
1 red or orange pepper
1 medium fennel bulb
1 courgette
1 small aubergine
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 -1 tsp fine sea salt

For the sauce
400 g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp fresh oregano or thyme, or a pinch of dried herbes de Provence
120 ml (4 fl oz) vegetable stock
handful fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp dried basil
handful fresh parsley
10 grinds black pepper
pinch of fine sea salt

For the optional potato topping
3 medium potatoes
2 tsp olive oil (or a few spritzes of olive oil spray)
fresh thyme or oregano

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Line a large roasting tin with foil for easy clean up. Peel the carrots, onion and sweet potato, then trim and chop all the vegetables into 3 cm (1”) cubes. Leave the garlic cloves whole and unpeeled.

Transfer the vegetables and garlic to the roasting tin, add the oil and salt, then mix with your hands or a large spoon so everything is nicely coated. Roast for 30-40 minutes until tinged with brown, turning them over halfway through.

While the vegetables are roasting, cut the unpeeled potatoes for the topping into 2 mm thick slices using a mandoline or the slicing blade of a food processor. If the slices are any thicker than this, place them in a bowl, cover with hot water and microwave on full power for 2 minutes (or boil in a pan of water for 3-4 minutes) to par-cook, then drain well.

Mix all the sauce ingredients together. Once the vegetables are roasted, remove the garlic, squeeze the cloves out of the skin and add to the sauce. Pour the well-stirred sauce over the roasted veggies, then bake for a further 25-30 minutes until you have a thick but still juicy mixture.

Spoon the mixture into a baking dish at least 5 cm (2”) deep, or divide between 4-6 ramekins or mini gratin dishes for individual- sized servings. Layer the potato slices over the vegetable mixture, brush with the oil then cover tightly with foil.

Bake at 200°C/Gas 6 for 20-30 minutes or until the topping is a lovely golden brown and the potatoes crisp at the edges – if not, place under a hot grill for a few minutes. Scatter with sprigs of the herbs and serve.

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