Monday, August 12

Feta & Mediterranean Vegetables Baked 'En Papillote'

A great way to impress your guests with nothing more that paper and twine. This is a remarkably simple way to get the 'wow' factor and the smells when you open the bag are sure to get an 'oooo' from even the most stoney hearted. You can make up the parcels in advance and just run through the oven to heat through on the day of service.  For two:

Aubergine - 1, sliced
Red & yellow peppers, 1 of each, seeded and cut into 4
Courgette - 1, sliced
Waxy potato - 1 large one, sliced
Feta - 1x 200g block
Lemon - 2 slices
Fresh thyme - 3 sprigs, leaves separated from woody stems
Fresh rosemary - a sprig, leaves separated from woody stems
Dried mint - a sprinkle
Garlic - 2 cloves, crushed
Extra virgin - 50ml

Gently simmer the potato slices until just tender - you don't want them falling apart. Heat a griddle pan on the stove until smoking. Crush the garlic and bruise the herbs. Mix with the olive oil and toss all the vegetables in the flavoured oil with lots of seasoning and the dried mint. Chargrill your vegetables until you get nice griddle marks and the vegetables are almost cooked through (potatoes included). 

Cut four squares of baking parchment approx 30cm by 30 cm. Lay one on top of the other so you get a double layer. Pour any excess oil in the centre of each paper square and lay out a layer of potato. Top with the remainder of the vegetables in any order you like and finish with a big chunk of feta on top. Top this with a slice of lemon. Gather the paper up from the edges to make a parcel with the opening uppermost. Tie with string and bake in a moderate oven (180c) for 30 minutes or so on a thick baking sheet. The idea is to try to gently crisp the potato base adding a nice contrast when you eat the dish. To serve just put on a plate and give you eating partner some scissors and a hunk of good bread (cutlery may also be welcome).

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