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Delicate Vegetable Pavé

Elegant, delicious and the perfect pairing for any protein, a vegetable pavé is a great side dish to have in your repertoire. The key is to slice the vegetables as thinly as possible, using a mandoline for this task is highly recommended, just watch your fingers! Baked in the same fashion as its cousin ‘the dauphinoise’, this pavé should be cut in a rectangular shape to show off its colourful thin layers. The vegetables I use in this recipe can be changed for others, just apply the same technique. It is a dish best prepared several hours in advance, even the night before. Cooling it completely prior to cutting helps prevent the layers from slipping. The portions can be reheated simply by placing them on a lined baking tray and baking at 180°C for 5-10 minutes. My favourite pairing is seared scallops, both delicate in flavour, it makes for a beautiful light lunch or even an evening starter. Bon appétit!

Serves 4

1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1-2 firm potatoes, peeled
3 peppers (1 red, 1 orange and 1 yellow) , roasted, seeded, peeled and cut into 4 pieces each
1 white turnip, peeled
1-2 courgettes
5dl heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of fresh thyme
white pepper and salt, to taste
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 x 3-inch (8cm) piece of fresh Parmesan, finely-grated
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 175°C. Completely butter the inside of a loaf pan, square pyrex or metal dish. Cut out a long piece of baking paper, it needs to hang over one side of the pan by at least 3 inches (8cm). Press the baking paper into the pan and butter the bottom and sides again. Set aside. In a saucepan, gently heat the heavy cream, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Bring to just under a simmer and remove to steep for 10 minutes. Taste.

You want the cream to be slightly salty. Strain. Using a mandoline or a very steady hand, slice as thinly as possible, the sweet potato, potato, courgette and turnip. Place them each in a separate bowl and evenly pour the cream over each one. Gently mix so that each slice of vegetable is coated with the cream.

Now begin to layer, starting with the potato. Be sure to slightly overlap each piece until the base of your dish is covered. Repeat. Crack a little pepper on the top then continue with the sweet potato. Place down two layers then sprinkle with a little parmesan and pepper. Next, add two layers of courgette. Top with a little parmesan and pepper. Now create the centre of the pavé by layering the roasted peppers, one colour at a time with a layer of white turnip in between. To finish the layering, repeat the sequence in reverse. So courgette, sweet potato then finish with potato.

Drizzle any remaining cream from the bowls on top of the pavé and finish with the last of the parmesan. Fold the overlapping parchment  over the top and weigh down with an ovenproof plate or ramekins. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a knife easily cuts through the layers. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into 4 portions. Reheat gently when ready to serve. Enjoy!