Comfort veg for winter nights
Apart from using great vegetables and fresh herbs, there’s a reason each of these dishes takes Geoff Scott to a happy place.
I love to eat this simple, honest dish in winter alongside any fish or meat, or even just with a good loaf of crunchy bread and very simple green salad. It originated in the south of Italy, in Campania and in Sicily, with both regions claiming it as their own. It’s also known as parmigiana di melanzane and there are a number of ways of making it and many, many variations thereof. I worked with a very passionate Italian chef named Vincenzo who showed me this version, which his mum made in their home.
A whole roasted cauliflower is a stunning centrepiece on the dinner table. The taste of this is incredible; you’ll be surprised by the deliciously warm spiced and nutty tahini coating. I’ve used ras el hanout, a fantastic blend of spices from Morocco and North Africa. It translates to “head of the shop” — a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer — and it really is the “top shelf” of their spices.
When I worked in Aix-en-Provence, head chef Jean-Marc Banzo taught me one thing I’ll never forget about cooking vegetables. He loved to saute or fry leeks until they almost fell apart. The same thing applies to fennel. This technique concentrates the flavour and changes the texture and the result is incredibly delicious. I have combined these vegetables to make a creamy, crunchy gratin that will leave you wanting more.