Sophia Finucane teaches us about how to serve up one of her favourite dishes, perfect for the autumn weather.
College is back, and buying food out is expensive. I always found that the best option was to make a batch of a casserole on the stove top that would take ingredients as far as they can stretch, last a week, be good cold, and be microwavable on campus (which we are, thank God, back on). My grandfather came from a small village in Cyprus with very little food, and then immigrated to the UK and found the joy of frozen and tinned goods, and applied his resourceful cooking methods to them. This is a classic example of that, and in that sense I think it is perfect student food. In Cyprus we call it Bizeli, but many cultures between the Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa have their own variation and name for it. This also has the benefit of using seasonal and cheap vegetables and being very hearty and autumnal; perfect for when we’re suffering in the cold library. The recipe below will look chaotic, yes, but that only speaks to how adaptable it is:
- a good glug of olive oil
- 1 large onion, any colour, diced
? 1 large or two small potatoes, sliced into roughly 3cm pieces
? 2 carrots, diced
? One cup frozen peas, give or take
? A tin of tomatoes
? Any spices you have (1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 heaped tsp paprika or smoked paprika, 1 tsp cumin or garam masala...or all of the above)
? Any dried herbs you have (1 heaped teaspoon of thyme, sage, oregano, basil, or 1/2 tsp mint)
? Salt and pepper to taste, but don’t skimp
? A tablespoon of tomato paste if you have it, or anything with an umami character that you have for flavour like Marmite, Worchester sauce, balsamic vinegar (not too much), soy sauce, chopped sundried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, a stock cube...take a leaf out of my grandfather’s book, adapt to your surroundings and get creative with this one! Why not?
1. Heat the oil in the pan.
2. Fry the onion, potato and carrot until everything has softened slightly and the onions are translucent, this will take about 15 minutes or so.
3. Add the peas, tomatoes and seasonings and bring to a boil (at this point, add a teaspoon of sugar or liquid sweetener if you want to remove some acidity from the tomatoes).
4. Simmer for 30 mins.
5. Serve with a big hunk of bread, naan, flat bread or toasted pitta. If you want to be fancy and sprinkle crumbled feta or Violife Greek Style vegan cheese on top, feel free!
Once cooled, this can keep covered in the fridge for up to a week and reheats beautifully! I think it gets better with time.