This is a really handy and flexible dish to have in your repertoire – excellent on its own with some good bread and cheese, great to fill brunch crêpes, or to serve with some boiled rice if you want something more substantial. You can chuck in some chickpeas or cannellini beans to up the protein, or crack a few eggs on top and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes to cook the eggs.
2 sweet red peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm cubes
1 large onion, halved and sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, sliced
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 courgette, sliced
3 sprigs of thyme
4 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped (tinned are fine)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
handful of basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Roast the peppers on a baking tray in the oven for about 20 minutes (you only want to soften them). Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan, add the aubergine and cook, stirring from time to time, on a medium heat until the aubergine softens and starts to brown.
While that’s cooking, warm a tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and sweat the onion until it is soft and transparent. Turn the heat to low, add the sliced garlic and the chilli and leave to fry gently for another 10 minutes. Add the courgette and the thyme to the pan of softened aubergine and cook for a further 15 minutes, before stirring in the chopped tomatoes, smoked paprika and the cooked onions. Remove the stems and seeds from the roasted peppers, cut them into 1cm slices and add into the pan.
Simmer gently for 20 minutes or so – once it has come together as a pulpy stew, season with salt and pepper and add the freshly torn basil leaves.
The Parlour Café Cookbook by Gillian Veal is out now, published by Kitchen Press.