I have a real weakness for gooey food – from rich chocolate and caramel desserts to freshly baked bread or melting cheese on top of a pizza straight from the oven – there is something deeply satisfying, and almost decadent about that soft, slightly sticky, but never slimy or cloying, texture in your mouth. Cheese is an ideal food for creating that deliciously melting feel in a dish so since I started avoiding dairy products I have been seeking for recipes where I can recapture that consistency but with vegan alternatives. This recipe really couldn’t be easier and works really well with vegan cheese (although you can use non-vegan cheese if you eat dairy). It unites that stalwart pairing of cheese and tomatoes for a beautiful savoury flavour with the right balance between salt, sweet and tang, particularly with the slightly sweeter and more concentrated flavour of cherry tomatoes.
Cheesy tomato bake
Cooking time: 10 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes cooking time
Dietary info: vegetarian (vegan if you use vegan cheese, gluten-free if you replace the wholemeal flour with more gram flour)
- 325-350g cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced (chop off the end with the roots and about the top 3-5cm of the dark green end first)
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp dried mint
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 30g gram (chickpea) flour
- 30g wholemeal flour
- 30g grated cheese – Edam, gouda or mild cheddar would work well, or use vegan cheese designed for pizzas if you want to make the dish vegan
- Combine all the ingredients and mix well so that the tomatoes get slightly crushed and their pulp helps to bind the mixture.
- Put the mixture into a baking dish and bake at 160C fan for 15 minutes – the tomatoes on top should be getting a little crispy and the cheese / flour bits should be golden brown but the bake should still be soft and juicy.
- Serve with a green salad, crusty bread or pitta breads and / or the sauce below if you want.
A few tips to prep ahead:
- Prepare (chop, grate etc.) all the ingredients, combine and put in the baking dish, covered, in the fridge.
- Make the sauce (below) and keep in a sealed container in the fridge)
- All you need to do on the night is put the bake in the oven to cook and heat through the sauce.A few twists for using the tomato mix
Some tasty little twists and extras…
- Cook the bake for 10 minutes then spread it over slices of crusty bread and put under the grill for 2-3 minutes for a twist on cheese on toast.
- Use the tomato bake mixture to stuff peppers, aubergine or marrow – halve and hollow out a central cavity in the aubergine or marrow or halve the peppers, bake or steam the vegetable for 10-20 minutes until it is starting to soften then fill the cavity with the tomato mix and bake for a further 15 minutes.
- Mix with small pasta shapes e.g. macaroni, or a can of beans and bake for a more substantial meal.
Tomato, onion and mint sauce
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried mint
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- Salt and pepper to season, optional
- Put the onion in a small non-stick saucepan or frying pan with enough water to cover the bottom. Cover the pan and cook on a medium heat until the onion is very soft, topping up the water if it starts to dry out.
- Crumble in the stock cube and also add the garlic powder, mint, parsley, tomato puree and lemon juice and stir to combine.
- Add enough water to make the sauce a thin chutney consistency, with the liquid thickly coating the onion. It should not be dry, but should not be so watery that it can’t hold its shape when scooped up on a spoon. Taste it and season with salt and pepper if you want.