Here’s a deliciously satisfying recipe that’s well worth making for lunch. It’s sweet, roasted Mediterranean veg, wrapped in a buttery, crumbly pastry and topped with a lightly poached egg.
It’s made using Freedom Food approved free range eggs (more on that later) and best of all, it feeds four for less than £1 a head.
- 200g (7 oz) plain flour
- 125g (4.5) butter
- 1 tbsp cold water
- ½ red onion (100g)
- 1 medium courgette (150g)
- 1 large red pepper (200g)
- 20 cherry tomatoes (200g)
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp oregano
- salt and pepper
- 100g (3.5 oz) pesto
- 5 Freedom Foods stamped, medium free range eggs
- Preheat the oven to 200C/390F (180C/355F fan)
- Blitz the butter, flour and pinch of salt and pepper together in a food processor until you have a coarse crumb
- Add the water and pulse again so that it comes together in a dough
- Turn out, knead a couple of times, then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to firm up
- Deseed the pepper and cut into inch chunks
- Chop the courgette into ½ inch semi-circles
- Chop the onion into inch wedges
- Toss all the veg, including the whole cherry tomatoes, in a bowl with the oil, oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper
- Tip into a roasting tray, spread evenly and bake for around 30 minutes until the tomatoes have softened, shaking once or twice during the cooking process
- Tip into a bowl to cool completely and pop in the freezer for 5-10 minutes so that they're nice and chilly
- Divide the pastry into 4 equal pieces and roll into balls
- Roll out each ball on a floured surface to about 3mm thick and round
- Spread with ¼ of the pesto each, leaving about an inch clear all the way round
- Top each with ¼ of the roast veg, then fold up the edge to create a gallete - work slowly, the pastry is quite easily broken
- Transfer carefully to a greaseproof lined baking sheet using a spatula
- Brush the pastry all over with egg white
- Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes until just golden
- When the gallette is almost ready, poach the remaining four eggs (I did mine by buttering a mug, breaking in an egg and zapping for 40 seconds) then place one atop each gallette
When you cut into the egg, the soft yolk will ooze into the veggies below, the pastry will be ultra crumbly and buttery, the veggies sweet and juicy. It’s just amazing.
If you’re a regular to this blog, you might have noticed that I always describe eggs in recipes a certain way. Instead of “3 medium eggs”, I tend to write “3 medium free range eggs”.
Why? Well sadly a lot of people think that caged egg farming was banned in 2012, but it wasn’t.
Prior to 2012, the law required battery farmers to make cages holding FIVE birds just 50 x 55cm – that’s less than an A4 sheet per bird, and they’re never let out. That is where they live and die.
Rather than banning caged farming, the 2012 legislation granted each bird another 50 square cm square of space – that’s about a third of postcard extra per bird. In short, the conditions are still extremely poor.
When you shop for eggs now, if there’s no mention of “barn”, “free range” or “organic” then the eggs are likely to be from caged hens. If they say “Barn”, then it should be safe to infer that the hens were not in cages, but allowed to roam in a barn with grazing space, nesting boxes and room to stretch.
“Free range” birds will probably live in a barn similar to that described above, but with “pop holes” that allow access to an outside space. EU legislation permits a stocking density of 2,500 birds per hectare whereas the RSPCA requires up to a maximum of 2,000 birds per hectare. That’s 4-5 square metres per bird.
Finally, “Organic” eggs should be from birds raised in a free range environment, but with additional focus on sustainability issues, including soil health and biodiversity.
Now, labels can’t always be entirely trusted, so the RSPCA has been running a scheme for the last 20 years called Freedom Food, which tracks and assesses the animal welfare standards of farmers who have joined the scheme, and awards the Freedom Food badge to only those who meet its minimum requirements.
This means that a reliable way to be confident that the eggs you are buying are what they claim to be is to look for the Freedom Foods logo. It looks like this and it means that that product was produced to RSPCA welfare standards.
Sainsbury’s stopped selling any eggs that weren’t Freedom Food stamped in 2009 and in 2012 they dropped caged eggs from their own brand product ingredients too. That’s a step in the right direction.
And Freedom Foods doesn’t just track egg-production standards. It also upholds minimum standards of animal welfare in meat production too. I’m pleased to learn that Sainsbury’s have committed to selling only Freedom Foods approved meat poultry, eggs, game and dairy by 2020. They already sell more Freedom Food certified products than any other supermarket, accounting for over 60% of all Freedom Food sold in the UK.
And it needn’t be costly. If all the ingredients for the recipe above were bought from Sainbury’s as I did, ensuring the use of Freedom Food free range eggs, the total cost would be £3.91, or just under 98p per portion.
Of course, the best way to ensure animal welfare is to consume no animal products at all, which many vegans achieve successfully, but if you do choose to consume animal products (I’m vegetarian, my kids and husband are omnivores), then the Freedom Foods scheme is well worth looking in to.
This is a commissioned recipe for Sainsbury’s