Macedonian Vegetable Bake
I invented this dish during Lent in 2000. It was a Saturday and I had offered to cook so, I was trying to decide on a suitable sugar free vegan recipe for dinner.
In the back of my mind was a bottle of wine that I had seen in the local supermarket the previous Friday evening. They were selling one and a half litre bottles of Macedonian Red wine for less than four Deutsch Marks. Now that is a pretty amazing price but it had roused my suspicions. Could it be that the wine was actually drinkable as well as being so cheap? I wanted to find out but I was a little concerned about what I would do if I bought the wine and found that it was as bad as I feared.
I didn't know of any recipes that would use a really substantial quantity of red wine but I figured that, if I came up with one that would take a normal sized bottle then I could at least use half of one of the big bottles in the shop. So, my Macedonian Vegetable Bake was born. Yes, you have realised that the wine is the only link between the recipe and the country!
The meal was a great success. I can tell if I have cooked well because Maria wants more and finishes before I do. This dish passed that test with flying colours.
You want to know about the wine too don't you? Well, for the full answer, please read my review but the short answer is that we drank it and enjoyed it!
You will need:
Potatoes: (See below for quantities)
Carrots: one large carrot per person.
Onions: one medium sized onion per person.
Aubergine: One small one for two people.
Lentils: One medium size can is fine for two.
Asparagus shoots: a small jar is fine for two.
Mixed Chinese Vegetables: One medium jar for two people.
Red Wine: lots and lots. :-)
Salt, black peppers, herbs de Provence.
You will need a deep baking dish or casserole dish.
And, this is what you do!
Open the beer.
Put the oven on the Gas mark 5 or 190C
Peel and slice sufficient potatoes to make a layer covering the bottom of your baking dish. The slices should be about one cm thick. Put them in a pan, cover them in salted water and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until soft. In the meantime, peel, slice and boil the carrots for about 15 minutes. It all works out fine if you start on the carrots after the potatoes are on the cooker.
Once the carrots are on the cooker, take some more potatoes (about half of the quantity that you have used already and peel them and put them on to boil in another pan of salted water.
Slice the aubergine and place the slices on a plate and sprinkle with salt to suck out the bitter juices.
Ten minutes before the the potatoes and carrots are ready, empty the Lentils, asparagus and chinese veggies into a pan and start to heat.
Then peel and slice the onions and start to fry them gently until they are soft. Also wash the aubergine slices and fry with the onions.
By wonderful co-ordination in time, the potatoes and carrots are ready just as the vegetables reach the boil, the onions and aubergines are cooked and you have finsihed drinking the beer. So now it's time to open the wine!
Now, place the potatoes in a layer across the bottom of the dish and put the carrots on top and then the onions and aubergines.
Strain the other vegetables from the liquid and place them on top of the potatoes and carrots.
Add a little salt and pepper and sprinkle on liberal quantities of the herbs. Now pour in the wine so that it almost covers the vegetables in the dish and put the dish into the oven.
Pour yourself a glass of wine because the beer is finished and you want to make sure that the wine is OK!
The bake should be bubbling quietly to itself now and, when the second lot of potatoes are cooked, mash them with a little butter or margarine, add some black pepper and herbs and a little of the wine. Now spread the mashed potatoes across the top of the vegetables and put back in the over for another ten or fifteen minutes until the potatoes on top are begining to brown. Note, if you are not trying for a vegan dish, you could also sprinkle some grated cheese all over the top after the potatoes go on and then you cook until the cheese is melted.
Right, that's it!
Garnish with parsley.
Best enjoyed with dry red wine.