Vegetarian baked dinner

30 May 2008
With the rain and cold weather yesterday I started thinking of a good old fashioned baked dinner. My fellow Australians would know this as a meal that featured either roast lamb, chicken or beef which an assortment of vegetables and gravy. My vegetarian version of a baked dinner is pictured here. This is what we ate last night.

I often get requests to write posts about frugal vegetarian meals so I thought this might be a good time to do one. Let me say first that I don't consider myself to be vegetarian. I take emu oil capsules every day that require the death of the bird to produce, I wear leather shoes and sit on a leather sofa. I have disqualified myself from using the vegetarian term, but having said that, I don't eat meat.

My version of a baked dinner cost about two dollars for two portions. The meal is made up of potato, pumpkin, and onion - all peeled and baked in the oven with a little olive oil; steamed silverbeet and a portion of cauliflower bake.

A cauliflower bake is simply cauliflower washed and cut into flower heads and placed in a dish - microwave on high to half cook the cauliflower. Drain the water from it. Make a cheese sauce from scratch, pour that over the cauliflower and bake in the oven at the same time you're baking the vegetables.

Place a tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of cornflour or plain (all purpose) flour and mix together. When the butter is melted and the flour combined, add about a cup of milk and mix. Make sure your heat is low now as you don't want it to come together too fast - that will create lumps. Add a cup of shredded cheese and mix in. Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg. Keep stirring until the sauce is thickened and smooth.

I bought this cauliflower for $2 at my local market. The cheese sauce would cost about $1 to make. There is enough in this to last Hanno and I for three meals. Tonight it will be reheated to have with mashed potato with onion and parsley, carrots, cabbage and button squash. Tomorrow night I'll mash the last of it up to make bubble and squeak.

I always aim to make five different vegetables per evening meal. My version of the baked dinner gives you the baked vegetables that are crispy and caramelised, the protein part of the meal is the cheese sauce on the cauliflower. We followed this with simple fruit salad from the back yard of fresh oranges, bananas and passionfruit all cut up and combined. Oh, and we each had a bottle of Corona beer left over from my birthday party. ;- )

And just for good measure here is the bread baked yesterday. It's a corn and barley loaf with poppyseeds, made in a cake tin. I had mine hot with butter and vegemite and a cup of tea.


  1. I make my cheese sauce in the microwave - never comes out lumpy & fast. mix flour & butter first microwave 1 min.
    Use whisk to stir, add in milk, whisk - pop in microwave 1-2 mins, whisk Then add more milk if needed another minute whisk, add cheese and done.

    I've tagged you (a blog game) I doubt it is your thing - I don't do these sorts of things normally but it's looking back at where you were 10 years ago & I suppose I am nosy -
    Love Leanne

  2. Your dinner looks wonderful. My mouth is drooling over the cheesebake! and your bread is beautiful. Love reading your blog everyday. Would love your bread recipe. Vicki H. USA

  3. Yummy! I love baked/roasted vegetables and so do my kids! We love to do potatoes, carrots, onions, and squash! And cheesy cauliflower? Yum! Can't wait for my garden to start producing so I don't have to spend my money at the store for vegies! Thanks Rhonda! Take care!

    Kristina in Nebraska

  4. Lovely loaf Rhonda........I make my cheese sauce using the 'all in one method' flour,mustard, butter,pepper and milk in the pan and whisk until it theickens then add the cheese and allow it to melt in the residual heat in the pan. Macoroni cheese is one of my OH's favourites. The other is cauli and brocc gratin. Steam florets of cauliflower and calebrease until half cooked, arrange in a dish and pour over cheese sauce, then top with breadcrumbs mixed with a bit of grated cheese and sprinkle paprika pepper over the top, cook at 180oC for about 45 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the top nice and crunchy. I serve it with thyme baked tomato's and spuds cooked in their skins. The whole lot can be cooked in the oven at the same time, saving fuel. I often cook the whole thing to the topping stage and then put it in the fridge just adding the topping when its time to cook it, stops the topping taking moisture out of the cheese sauce.

  5. The food looks wonderful, especially the caulifower. Now I am in the mood for that.

  6. yum! very similar to the dinner I ate a couple of hours ago, too!

  7. Good Morning Rhonda

    Cauliflower Cheese always brings back such fond memories of my parents. My dad was a small famer, milk cows, hay, veg crops to sell at the gate ect. One year he put in cauliflowers but so did every one else in the neighbouthood and they didn't sell. We ate cauliflower in every way mum could think of for months. Didn't put me off, still love a good cauli cheese.

    Have a happy day.


  8. That's how I make my cheese sauce to pour over cooked pasta (my version of macaroni and cheese). My oldest gobbles it up. I will have to try this cauliflower bake - I know hubby and I would definitely enjoy it.

    You know, I cannot think of emu oil without thinking of you (since you are where I heard about it years ago). We still haven't purchased any. The natural foods market here never would carry it and we never did take the plunge and try to find an online source. Hubby's knees are giving him problems again (he still thinks it's linked to all the running he did) and one of mine has started recently (I blame it on all the squatting in the garden).

    I do need to come up with more meatless meals for us, but with consuming organics it doesn't always guarantee a cheaper meal. Of course the more successful I am with the garden, the fewer things we have to purchase.

  9. Yay Rhonda! I was just going to ask you the very same question you just answered. We eat primarily vegetarian, for health and cost reasons, and if I buy meat it has to be extremely cheap and I only use it for "flavoring" -- in soups, stir fries or whatever. All that to say, I was wondering what you eat because I sense you do "homecookin'" rather than "gourmet" and that's what we mamma's need!

  10. I love the veggie roasts using whatever veg I have to hand; I especially like sweet potatoes (orange ones) but they are expensive here so an occasional treat. I usually roast a mix of onions, carrots, swede, parsnips, squash, potatoes; a great meal with greens and gravy, and any leftovers make good bubble and squeak, but think I'll try some in a roast veg pasty or pie next time.

    and your bread looks absolutely gorgeous! :)

  11. Oh it all looks too good--now I am craving this...LOL!

  12. Just FYI, you get plenty of protein from just the vegetables, without the need for the added cheese/dairy. In fact, if you eat enough calories in vegetables, whole grains and fruit, you get more protein than the adult human requires! If you add some oats and brown rice, you will have as much oil as you need also.

    I've been eating a whole foods, plant based diet for almost 7 years, and think that it is the way to go for me. I lost about 35 pounds when I started, but now I've reached my natural weight and eat as much as I care to. Lots of delicious veggies, whole grains, and fruit. Some of it grown in my very own gardens.

    Keep up the great work, and thank you for writing so well about what makes you happy. You are an inspiration!

    James in Maryland

  13. Hi Rhonda Jean :) Yum and double yum! Your post was quite the challenge for me to read tonight at 10 in the evening, supper long past and very pregnant - lol. Tonight's snack will be a bit more creative than usual ;)

    Thanks SO much for sharing your meal ideas. Love, Q

  14. Morning Rhonda,
    I loved the look of your Roast Dinner, I am not mad on meat either, but I have a husband that thinks the world has come to an end if he does'nt have a big portion of meat on EVERY plate, so expect I will have to add a few chops to our plates which ruin the frugality of the meal but nevermind.
    I adore the look of your loaves and I am tempted to just use my bread maker to make the dough and then bake the bread myself in the oven and they look sooo much nicer that way.
    I know I should'nt wish my time away but I look forward so much for when my children start school next September, then I will have more time on my hand to do lovely stuff like you do.
    I have started knitting squares to make a patchwork blanket for my children in the winter, looking forward to the next swap whatever it may be.
    Hope you have a lovely day at home Rhonda after a really busy few days.
    Take care
    Steph xxx

  15. This all looks beautiful - I love baked vegetables!

    I am about to begin digging a vegetable garden in my Central Coast of NSW home. I am getting very interested in worms/compost/water conservation. My block is suburban and my formal plants are getting nervous that their days may be numbered in favour of herbs and vegies! :) Lots of grass to get rid of (less to mow!)Lots of shopping malls nearby, but I would like to grow as much as I can at home. Your site gives me so much inspiration - thank you!

  16. Even though I'm having my morning coffee right now, that cauliflower-cheese dish looks delicious! I'm getting hungry just looking at it.

    Christine from the NL

  17. We had steamed vegies, I know not as good as roast the other day, gado gado from the Taste website.

  18. Rhonda,

    I thank you for the recipe:) Do you all eat much pasta? I would love it if you keep adding more recipes:)


  19. I would love to see what your daily menu looks like. Your food is so healthy - it is inspiring and I want more ideas!

  20. Thanks Rhonda Jean! I'm always looking for more ideas to fix no meat dinners. Hubby also isn't a vegetarian, but refuses to eat any meat from an animal that hasn't been allowed to roam free and have a normal life before processing. SO we eat a lot of fish mostly. We often have just a huge baked potato each for dinner! Keep the recipes coming!

  21. I have just found your blog - it is very interesting - and I have to tell you that my name is Ronda Jean! I've never known of another one before. Nice to meet you!

  22. That looks so yummy! Even though it is quite hot here today I think I might just bake some veggies also.

  23. We often have meals like this one, too. I envy you the button squash, though. I bought a packet of seeds to grow them this summer here in England and not one of the seeds has germinated. I'm really disappointed as I was really looking forward to them.

  24. I'd love the recipe for the corn and barley loaf. Please, please, pretty please....

  25. Rhonda, I'm now starving. Wow, that looks great!!

  26. river, the recipe is the same as that for my bread rolls, but you use half wholemeal or white flour with half corn and barley flour.

    Hello Ronda Jean, nice to meet you. :- )

    Rinelle, we do eat pasta. Dry when I'm in a hurry and homemade when I have some time. I usually have some homemade pasta sauce bottled and ready to go in the stockpile cupboard. I will post an occasional recipe when we eat something worth writing about but I must say I just make up a lot of it as I go. It's nothing special.

  27. Looks and sounds delicious, Rhonda. And simple, too!

  28. I don't call myself a vegetarian either, and I appreciate you making that distinction.
    I was inspired to make your cauliflower bake tonight along with sauteed swiss chard from the garden. The carnivore I live with roasted a tri tip roast, but I'm the one looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow.

  29. Hi Rhonda
    hanks for the inspiration. I had a cauli that was nearing its 'use by date" and the cauli cheese thing was a great way to use it up -should have thought of that myself!

  30. YUM! That is a roast dinner at our place, and always has been. Only exception is that this year we've had a couple of our roosters, roasted.

    We have a variety of roasted vegies (often a few whole cloves of garlic thrown in) with either cheese sauce, white sauce or gravy. On the side we have a big serving of steamed greens or some frozen peas (because they seem to 'go' with gravy, to me!)

    Yum, yum, yum!

    Your bread looks delish, as always. xx

  31. That all looks so delicious Rhonda! We also top our cauliflower cheese with breadcrumbs mixed with some extra grated cheese, makes a very filling meal. Trouble is I need to cut down on dairy! My bp is a bit high, i read on a blog called "joannas food" that cheese could be substituted with chopped anchovies in breadcrumbs as it adds the right flavour notes, I have yet to try this.

    best wishes Heather



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