Purple Vegetable Casserole

Purple Vegetable Casserole

This is, essentially, a vegetable casserole, but the ingredients were such that when cooked, it had a wonderful purple hue – fit for Royalty*, perhaps?

I had a number of single vegetables in the fridge, which all needed to be used, including some amazing, really vividly purple carrots. These, together with two small beetroot, are what gave the casserole its bright colour.

You can make this with any root veg, and oddments of cabbage, celery, fennel and so on.
My ingredients were:

·       A red onion
·       A parsnip
·       1 medium or 2 small beetroot
·       3 medium carrots
·       3 sticks celery
·       ½ a celeriac root
·       ½ butternut squash
·       1 sweet potato
·       ½ red pepper
·       ½ a head radicchio, shredded
·       2 garlic cloves
·       1 vegetable stock cube
·       1 tin chopped tomatoes
·       A liberal pinch of chilli flakes
·       Pinch smoked paprika
·       Pinch of carraway seeds
·       ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
·       Water as needed
·       Sunflower or rape seed oil to soften onions

Butternut squash has tough skin and celeriac is very knobbly so both must be peeled but root vegetables, where possible, are much better scrubbed clean than peeled.  Use the point of a small sharp knife to remove any eyes or indents that cannot be scrubbed.

Cube the root vegetables into approximately 2 cm pieces, but make the butternut squash and sweet potato chunks slightly larger, as they soften quickly anyway.

Start by chopping or slicing the onions finely, and crush the garlic, then add to a large casserole and soften till the onions are transparent. Try not to singe them or the flavour will be bitter.  Add the spices and continue to warm through, stirring till the onions are coated and the pot gives off a lovely aroma.  Now add all the fresh vegetables except the radicchio.  Stir everything well making sure all the vegetables are coated with spices. Add the tinned tomatoes, crumbled stock cube and water and continue mixing everything in.  Bring the pot to the boil, then cover and lower heat to keep it simmering.  Check water level periodically and taste to see if the veg is sufficiently soft to be pleasant to the tooth, and add seasoning if needed.  If your tastebuds tell you the dish is slightly bitter, add a dessert spoonful of honey.

At this point I added the radicchio. Had I been using cabbage or chopped cauliflower leaves, this is also the point when they would have gone in the pot.

Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes, garnish with a dollop of yoghourt or sour cream sprinkled with fresh chopped herbs, and serve immediately.

* In ancient Rome, only the emperor was permitted to wear purple. The colour was associated with royalty because the dye was so expensive.