Fondant is a word that is associated with icing these days. But it comes originally from the French, a cooking term meaning to melt. Fondant Potatoes is the most well known dish where the method of cooking is applied, but it can be used for other vegetables. They are cooked in butter, or in butter and stock, until achingly tender. Sometimes, as is the case with the Fondant Potatoes, an external crispy layer is achieved.
Ottolenghi has a great recipe in Plenty More for capsicums stuffed with fondant swedes. I was caught short, wanting to make this dish but forgetting to order swedes in the last COVID19 vegetable delivery. So I have twisted and turned his recipe to make it work with what I did have on hand – Kent Pumpkin, Parsnips and Cabbage. Absolutely delicious.
Ottolenghi himself has two versions of this dish. The one in the Guardian column uses gruyere cheese and does not par-cook the capsicums before stuffing. The one in Plenty More uses parmesan and goat’s cheese, and bakes the empty capsicum halves before stuffing and returning to the oven.
Baked Peppers Stuffed with Buttery, Cheesy Vegetables
6 small capsicum, red, yellow or mixed
2 tspn olive oil
about 800g swede, peeled, or use a mix of parsnip, swede and Kent pumpkin
150g unsalted butter
1 Tblspn picked thyme leaves
sea salt and black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tspn capers
180g soft goat’s cheese, broken into 1cm cubes
10g roughly chopped parsley
Heat the oven to 220C.
Cut the swede into 1cm dice. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the swede, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook over very gentle heat, regularly spooning butter over the swede so it cooks evenly, for 30 – 50 minutes or so, until completely soft and caramelised.
Meanwhile, cut the peppers in half lengthways, leaving the stalks on. Remove the seeds and white membrane, and place cut-side up on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Drizzle with the oil and some salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 30 – 35 mins until the flesh is completely soft and slightly charred. Remove from the oven.
Once the swede is cooked, remove from the pan, leaving behind any excess butter (use for other purposes, like cooking onions, carrots or zucchini). Mix the swede with the parmesan, garlic and capers, season with a little salt and pepper, and stuff inside the peppers. Dot the goat’s cheese on top.
Pop back into the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese gets some colour. Remove from the oven and sit for 5 mins before serving with a sprinkle of parsley.
recipe notes and alternatives
This recipe is endlessly flexible. I’d love to see it with cheesy fondant swedes and chickpeas. Or with mixed fondant vegetables, a tahini dressing and sprinkled with za’atar and sumac.
Vary the cheeses used. For example, feta could be used instead of Goat’s Cheese. Or gruyere used to replace both cheeses.
By the way, the vegetables are nice just on their own.