The Happy Pear Bake
Vegetables baked in a creamy red-pepper and almond butter sauce, topped with cheese and made with lots of love. It fills our kitchen with a yummy smell and our bellies with joy.
- 3 red peppers
- 100 g almond butter
- 200 ml cream (or sub for 200ml milk, and don't add the water)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 100 ml water
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 1 cauliflower head
- 1 broccoli head
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 leeks
- 250 g spinach
- 100 g feta cheese
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 3 spring onions
- grated cheese (cheddar, parmesan, mozarella…)
- pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or almond flakes (optional)
Preparing the sauce
Preheat oven at 200ºC. Place the red peppers on a baking tray in the oven. Flip the red peppers every now and then to cook equally on all sides. Bake until black bubbles appear on the skin. It should take around 40 mins.
Once done, set them aside tocool down. Once cool enough, use your hands to peel the skin off.
Blend the red peppers + cream + almond butter together, add salt + pepper + water to taste, blend again until smooth and silky.
Preparing the filling
Peel and slice the sweet potatoes in small, bite-size cubes. Place on an oiled baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 30 mins approx (or until soft but not mushed).
Chop the cauliflower and broccoli into florets. Steam or boil them for 5-8 mins (or until al dente). Rinse them through cold water using a sieve/collander, let them to fully strain.
Set a pan to medium heat, pour a little cooking oil, and sauté the chopped leeks, spring onions and garlic, until they are softened. Set aside.
Steam or sauté the spinach until they reduce in size and are softened.
Place all vegetables in a large baking dish. Crumble the feta and add the chopped basil. Mix well!
Add the sauce to the vegetable-filled baking dish, mix well. Top with your preferred grated cheese and seeds. Place the dish in the mid-lower level of your oven. Bake for 30 mins at 200ºC, set the oven to grill/gratin mode, bake for another 5-10 mins.
- Substitute the feta cheese for tofu + a little milk + spices, blended until you get a similar feta-consistency.
- Use oat cream instead of dairy cream.
Baking later: you can store the baking dish filled with veggies and sauce in the fridge for 2 days, then bake. Or you can freeze and then bake at a convenient time (let it thaw in the fridge for at least 6h before baking.
Choice of vegetables: the veggies used in this recipe are by no means the veggies you should use. You can make this bake your bake by changing up the veggies you use, depending on the season, what´s left in your fridge, your own preferences, etc. I changed it up myself! The original recipe calls for squash, celery root, and I used sweet potatoes and broccoli instead.
Here below is a step-by-step in photos of what the cooking process looks like. You can also watch a recorded video of our live cooking session from last Sunday May 17th by clicking here (it has 2 parts).
And to read a short story about the bake… see below.
This bake is our special-day dish. The recipe is from the first Happy Pear book and I cannot remember the first time we made, but I know it was in Dublin and I know we loved it. We’ve made it on special occasions, when people came over, on any random day… It’s just so good. So I guess I lied, it’s an any day kind of dish!
For all those who are not from or in Dublin, here’s a little background for you. The Happy Pear is a café in county Wicklow, a 30 mins train ride south, from Dublin city. They serve the most amazing food, both savoury (dals, buddha bowls, bakes, lasagnas, parmegianas, hummus, bread, saladas…) and sweet (caramel slices, banana bread, chocolate and carrot cakes…). Our typical Sunday plan would be to do the oh-so-typical-and-still-so-beautiful walk from Bray to Greystones. Normally, there was a looong queue to order, but no one really cared because we all know it was always worth the short wait. But the Happy Pear is also one of the biggest inspirations to move towards cooking more and more vegetarian, or even vegan. Realising that the veg world is so vast and varied is what got me excited to start expanding my vegetable-scope when I went grocery shopping. Not just that: realising that vegetarian food is frikin’ delicious was a big discovery for me in Dublin, and visiting this place often played a role in getting my cooking-monkey-mind clapping hands and bouncing with excitement!
The café is run by the Flynn brothers, two Irish twins who have seriously revolutioned the way people think about and eat food in Ireland. Plus they also get people to wake up before sunrise and go into the cold dark sea every morning – talk about being persuasive (funnily enough, we’ve got into a similar habit here in Sweden, but instead of going into the sea, we take a tip in the lake).
I’ve been asked a few times about any vegetarian books, blogs, chefs or recipes that are inspiring and accessible. I recommend checking out the recipes on their site, or even their books – they are a joy to browse through, and they’ll get you so excited about what to put on your plate next.
I hope you give this bake a try. If you do, let me know what you think on the comments section below!