Toad-in-the-hole with added extras

At a glance

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

As an Australian, toad-in-the-hole didn’t play a big part in my culinary upbringing. Indeed, the first time I was really aware of it was when I first read The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ at the age of nine. Adrian’s best friend Nigel complained about toad-in-the-hole being served as a school dinner (something else we didn’t really do in Australia, land of the lunchboxes) – he got in trouble for saying it was “all bleedin’ hole and no toad”. But my toad-in-the-hole would hopefully please Nigel as it is packed with loads of goodness.

Instead of just baking a few bangers in batter, I like to throw in an assortment of vegetables – it is an easy way to get your five-a-day and, if you anticipate leftovers, it means you throw this together once and then you don’t need to cook up any accompaniments the next day. Just bung the leftovers in the microwave or gently warm through in the oven the next day. Easy! The batter serves as the carbohydrates base for a festival of bangers and veg in this toad-in-the-hole.

This particular fully loaded toad-in-the-hole features onions, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, red pepper and mushrooms for the added vegetables, but pretty much any vegetable you fancy will work here. It is a great way to use up vegetables before they turn to compost in the fridge.

I covered the toad-in-the-hole in a coating of grated cheese, using a mix of red Leicester and some lovely onion-infused cheese that my Munching Matilda partner, Sam, gave me as part of a very generous present after my husband and I fostered Lucy the Boy Cat for a couple of weeks.

I served it with Vegemite gravy – it’s a simple butter-and-flour roux, a couple of crushed garlic cloves and a good dollop of Vegemite, with boiling water stirred through until it was the consistency I like.

And, of course, if you don’t eat meat, this toad-in-the-hole works just as well with meat-free sausages and topped with a bacon alternative and vegan cheese.

Ingredients

For the batter

150g plain flour

2 eggs

180ml milk

Salt, pepper, sumac and basil to taste (but pretty much any herb or spice you fancy will work here)

For the toad

Six sausages or 12 chipolatas (I used six pork and apple bangers)

2 tablespoons olive oil

125g mushrooms, sliced

200g cherry tomatoes

1 onion sliced

10 asparagus spears

150g diced bacon

Grated cheese to top – everyone’s mileage varies here, but I used about 150g of cheese I found in the fridge

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C with the baking tray with the olive oil inside so it gets really hot.
  2. Put the sausages in a baking tray or dish,  prick with a fork and baste in olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes.
  3. During the 10 minutes, prepare the vegetables.
  4. After 10 minutes in the oven, turn the sausages over and bake for another 10 minutes.
  5. While the sausages are in for the second 10 minutes, mix all the batter ingredients with a whisk until a smooth, creamy batter is formed. This is quickest with an electric whisk, but a hand whisk and some elbow grease works just as well.
  6. Remove the sausages from the oven and distribute the prepared vegetables evenly around the sausages. Work as fast as you can so the dish stays nice and hot.
  7. Pour the batter over the sausages and vegetables and sprinkle grated cheese and diced bacon on top.
  8. Bake for a further 25-30 minutes until the batter and cheese are golden-brown but not burnt.
  9. Serve with gravy.