I’ve always been keen on the idea of making savoury versions of dishes we would normally associate with dessert (‘savourising’ them?). I find the idea of a pear and blue cheese muffin scattered with pecan nuts just as appealing as a blueberry version, and have been toying for a while with the idea of a pork and sage crumble. Cobblers lend themselves particularly well to the savoury treatment: essentially just a stew covered in scones, they are delicious for dessert (I like to make a peach and blueberry version in the summer) but also make fine, hearty main courses. The scone topping absorbs all those delicious braising juices from the stew underneath, baking to crunchy golden perfection on the top while simultaneously providing a delicious vehicle to transport all that lovely sauce into your mouth.
Easter and Christmas are very meaty holidays, but while the nut roast seems a standard vegetarian option during the winter, there isn’t really a general consensus on what vegetarians should tuck into while everyone else is enjoying their roast lamb. This delicious savoury cobbler should satisfy the non-carnivores around the table. It’s bursting with the colours and flavours of the Mediterranean, perfect for welcoming spring: lovely fresh tomatoes and peppers bake until tender under a crust of goat’s cheese scones, fragrant with lemon thyme, rich with parmesan and topped with golden pine nuts. It’s easy to make and provides a hearty, all-in-one main course, deliciously rich and sweet, with those lovely tangy scones to soak it all up. All you need alongside is a great salad: I’d suggest a similarly Mediterranean-themed combination of sliced fennel, rocket leaves, green beans and a lemony mustard dressing with some toasted almonds.
Better still, this doesn’t take long to bake and there’s no stressing over oven space: you can cook it in the oven while the lamb is resting, to make sure everything is ready at once for the big Easter lunch. Enjoy the flavours of sunnier climes and the promise of the coming summer. Happy Easter!
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper and Parmesan in a large bowl. Rub the butter into this until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs – it’s OK if there are still a few lumps of butter. Stir in the goat’s cheese, milk/yoghurt/buttermilk and lemon thyme leaves and bring together until just combined to form a soft dough (don’t over mix). Press this into a ball.
On a floured worktop, press the dough into a rectangle around half an inch thick. Fold it in half, press into a rectangle half an inch thick again, then fold again and press into a rectangle ¾ inch thick (this folding makes the scones lovely and flaky when cooked). Wrap in clingfilm and chill while you make the filling.
In a medium frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil over a medium heat, then add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes until the onions are golden, then lower the heat and cook, slowly, until the onions are soft and caramelized (around 15 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then stir in the balsamic vinegar. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
Put the cherry tomatoes in a large baking dish. Thinly slice the peppers and add these to the tomatoes, then stir in the onion and garlic mixture and the lemon thyme and flour. Season well.
Remove the cheese dough from the fridge, and either use a scone cutter to cut it into circles, or simply slice into squares with a knife. Arrange these over the top of the vegetables, then brush the tops of the scones with the extra milk/buttermilk/yoghurt. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the scones (you may need to press them into the dough a little so they stick).
Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the scones are golden and the vegetables are bubbling. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.