Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oven extras

When baking meat or casseroles in the oven, there will probably be unused space available. I like to use it.


You will need:
Baking pans that can be covered and your choice of ingredients
Olive oil
Pepper and salt
An herb

In your baking pan, or pans, you could put chopped onion, chopped garlic, chopped apple, chopped tomatoes, chopped potato, chopped aubergine, chopped celery and on and on. But it is best to cook a single ingredient, or two, possibly three. A grand mix becomes a sort of ratatouille. And those of us who have lived in the country and had a surplus of vegetables and cooked them all together for the freezer and later use, will know how very bored one can become with the result.
Always start these extra-oven dishes with olive oil, some vinegar, pepper and salt. Add your chosen chopped ingredients.
Add an herb (one is better than lots), though I do sometimes use Herbes de Provence.
Before covering the tin with another of the same size, or foil, turn over all the ingredients with the fingers to coat the contents completely with the oil, vinegar, herb, salt and pepper mixture.
You may want to check the contents and turn them over at some point during the cooking, but most will be ready to eat without attention when the main dish is ready.
Besides my regular mixture of mainly peppers and onions, two other dishes have recently been great successes.

One of my favourite first courses (hot, warm, or cold) is aubergine in tomato and onion. Generally made in the slow cooker, this can be cooked very successfully as an oven extra.
Into an oven dish that can be covered with a lid, another dish, or foil, put chopped onion, olive oil, chopped garlic, pepper, salt, and a little vinegar. Just cook this until the onion is transparent. Add the contents of a can of chopped tomatoes. Stir it around. Now cut small aubergines into two down their length and place them, cut side down, in the onion/tomato mix. Cover and cook in the oven. They may not take quite as long to cook as stews, roasts and casseroles.

The other recent success had been Brussels sprouts. Trim them, and then coat them with olive oil, pressed garlic, pepper, salt and vinegar. Cover and oven-cook.
Should you be cooking a stew or casserole in the oven, and have some sprouts handy, place them on top of the ingredients. Cover and cook. Even those who can’t stand sprouts may well come around to liking these.