Sending love and hope to you all. This week has been explosively confusing yet clear and cogent. My brain and heart feel overwhelmed.
During stressful times, my body always yearns to cook and nourish. There is magic in the kitchen. The familiar scents wafting through our home; the singsong of spices morphing into an opera; the alchemy of turning raw ingredients into belly-bombing deliciousness.
May you find comfort too.
Enough for 10
450g smoked tofu or good-quality cooking chorizo such as Gubbeen
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
300g sliced leeks
2 large white onions, diced
1-2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
6 red peppers (use jarred if cocooning from CoVid!)
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas (reserve some of the liquid from the tins)
2 x 680g jars of passata tomato sauce
60g fresh flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves chopped (optional)
A few twists of the salt and pepper mill
Squeeze of lemon
Natural yogurt or cultured cream, to serve
1. If you’re using fresh red peppers, start by firing up your oven to 220C.
2. Slice your cooking chorizo into bite-sized rounds (not too thin, but not too chunky either). If you’re using smoked tofu, add it alongside the chickpeas at a later stage.
3. Using the largest heavy-based pot you have, warm it over a medium heat, then add the chorizo and colour it all over (chorizo can burn very quickly, so keep a watchful eye). You’ll need to do this in two batches to stop the pan from overcrowding and stewing the meat. Depending on your pan, you may benefit from a lick of olive oil to help the process along. The natural fat melting away from the chorizo is usually enough. Once coloured, set the chorizo aside on a large plate.
4. Using the same heavy-based pot, sauté the leeks in the residual fat (no leeks? No problem. Use extra onion). Give these 10 minutes. Once the leeks are soft, tip them onto the resting plate of chorizo and leave aside.
5. Now add the onions and cumin to the heavy-based pot. You may or may not need another lick of olive oil. Sauté until soft (another 10 minutes). Stir through your garlic 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Garlic cooks swiftly compared to onions.
6. While the vegetables sweat in the pan, cut your peppers into strips. Tumble with a splash of olive oil and roast on a large baking tray (or two medium trays) in your preheated oven for 20–25 minutes. You’re looking for the peppers to be slightly charred at the sides (use jarred red peppers if avoiding shops right now – these have the benefit of already bring cooked!).
7. As soon as your onions are done, parachute in your tinned chickpeas along with a bit of the liquid from the tin, the medley of cooked chorizo/tofu and veg, your roasted (or jarred) peppers, both jars of passata and the freshly chopped parsley. If you’re using smoked tofu sausage in place of chorizo, add it now. Cook over a low to medium heat for 30 minutes so that the flavours fraternise.
8. Taste, season and lift with lemon. Allow to cool fully before storing in individual portions designated for the freezer. We love serving ours with a blob of yogurt and some crusty bread on the side. A poached egg is also ace with fried sourdough crumbs or simple boiled potatoes.