Marinated peppers

This is a good side dish to add to a lunch of fresh bread, charcuterie and cheese. Enough for 4:

  • 4 large peppers (‘bell peppers’ – yellow and red are the tastiest, but green add some colour contrast)Marinated_peppers
  • 2 tbsp good (tasty) olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Black pepper to taste

Claudia Roden (in The Food of Italy (Square Peg)), suggests roasting the peppers (whole) in the oven at 190C (170C in a fan oven/Gas Mark 4) for 30-45 minutes “until they feel soft when you press them and their skins blister and begin to blacken”. I followed her instructions, which are certainly less labour intensive than charring the peppers over a flame (or grilling them).

Once cooked, put the peppers in a pan with a tight fitting lid (or seal them in a freezer bag), and leave for 10-15 minutes. This helps to further loosen the skins.

Remove the peppers from the pan/freezer bag, and remove the skins, stalks, cores and seeds. Reserve the juice from cooking the peppers.

Cut the peppers into large slices, and place in a shallow dish. Make the dressing with the oil, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of the pepper juice (strained). Season the dressing with black pepper to taste, and pour over the peppers.

Allow to cool and store in the fridge before serving.


Baked eggs with sweet potatoes and peppers

Eggs_Sweet_Potato-TileThis is a vegetarian version of the a previous recipe (Baked eggs with peppers and chorizo).

Supper – for 2:

  • 1 large potato (peeled and cut into 1.5cm cubes)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed/finely chopped)
  • 1 red chilli (cored, deseeded and finely chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (coarsely chopped)
  • Black pepper
  • 4 large eggs

Mix together all the ingredients other than the eggs, and place in a roasting dish and cook in the oven (160C (Gas Mark 3).

After about 45 minutes (when the sweet potatoes are soft), remove the roasting dish from the oven, and make four small wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each one.

Return the dish to oven and cook for a further 8 minutes or until the eggs whites are firm. Serve.

Chipotle chicken with Mexican rice


Enough for 2 (with left-over rice):

For the chicken:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 200g chopped tomatoes (1/2 a can)
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • A few sprigs of coriander (torn)

For the rice:

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 large pepper chopped (I used the remains of two peppers used for a previous meal)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 100g basmati rice (or any long grain rice)
  • 250ml stock (I used 1/2 tsp vegi-stock powder)
  • 2 tbsp double concentrated tomato purée
  • 400g can of red kidney beans (drained)

Cooking the chicken – coat the chicken thighs in the chipotle paste and leave (covered) in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.

Remove the chicken from the fridge (do not throw away any remaining marinade). Heat the oil in a thick bottomed saucepan, and brown the chicken thighs all over. Remove the chicken thighs to a plate.

Turn down the heat and gently cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Tip the tomatoes into the dish in which the chicken was marinated, and swill round to incorporate the remaining marinade. Add this mixture to the onion mixture, together with the vinegar. Stir and add the chicken thighs. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes (or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked).

Cooking the rice – heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the onion, peppers and garlic and gently cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, oregano and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rice, coating it with oil so that it begins to look transparent.

Stir in the tomato purée and the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until the rice is nearly cooked (about 15 minutes). Add more water if the rice becomes dry. Add the kidney beans and cook for another 5 minutes (or until they are piping hot).

Serve with the chicken (sprinkled with coriander).

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables or ratatouille


This makes a substantial quantity – enough for about 10 people as a side dish. I have a variety of uses for it: chopped, you can mix it with couscous, together with nuts, dried fruits, grains and a dressing made from harissa, oil and vinegar to make a excellent salad; mix it with passata and pasta, and top with grated cheese and you have a pasta bake (30 minutes at 180C (gas mark 4)); or just as a cold, cooked salad (with some salad dressing).

  • 1  aubergine (cut into pieces about 3x3x1cm – they don’t have to be square!)
  • 1 large courgette (cut into quarters lengthwise, and then cut into 3cm pieces)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (chopped or finely crushed)
  • Large pinches of dried basil and oregano (or fresh equivalents)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion (cut into narrow wedges (and broken up))
  • 2 large peppers (different colours – deseeded and cut into 3x1cm lengths)
  • 200g small tomatoes (skinned – the skins will be easily removed if you cut a small cross through the skin of each tomato, and then steep in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain, and plunging into cold water before pulling off the skins)
  • 1/2 lemon

Set the oven at 180C (Gas mark 4). Put the aubergine and courgette pieces into a large roasting tin. Sprinkle with plenty of olive oil, garlic, the herbs and black pepper.  Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes,

Add the onion and the peppers and mix well. Cook for a further 15 minutes, then arrange the tomatoes on top of the vegetables, then turn down the oven down 150C (Gas Mark  2) and cook for a further 20 minutes,

Remove the vegetables from the oven and sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve immediately or allow to cool and store in the fridge (the should last about a week).

Pasta bake


Made this the other night – enough for 2 (3 with a salad):

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion (medium sized – roughly sliced)
  • 2 medium peppers (medium sized – cored and roughly sliced) – different colours will improve the look of the dish)
  • 1 chilli (deseeded and chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Black pepper
  • 3 handfuls of ‘chunky’ pasta
  • 100g mature cheddar (grated)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, peppers, chilli and garlic. Cook fairly gently for about 5 minutes (stirring occasionally).

Add the tomatoes, oregano and black pepper. Bring to the boil and gently simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. When cooked drain and add to the tomato mixture. Stir in most of the grated cheese.

Turn into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake in the oven at 180C (Gas Mark 4) for about 25 minutes. Alternatively, if you are using a microwavable dish, you could reheat it in the microwave and grill for about 2 minutes.

Chow mein


This is a quick supper I made from left-overs the other day (enough for two people):

  • 2 portions of Chinese noodles (I found these in the back of a cupboard – you could use any noodles or spaghetti or vermicelli)
  • oil
  • 1/2 an onion peeled and sliced (not that thinly)
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and chopped
  • 1 chilli deseeded and chopped
  • 1 piece of root ginger (about 2x2cm) chopped
  • 1/2 a red pepper (any other colour would be OK) deseeded and sliced
  • 150g fresh beansprouts
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

Cook the noodles as indicated on the packaging.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a wok. Add the onion and stir fry for about a minute. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and stir fry for another minute. Add the red pepper and stir fry for a further one minute. then add the beansprouts and stir fry for another minute.

Drain the noodles and add to the wok together with the soy sauce. Mix well and serve.