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I’ve been thinking about ‘stew’ as a word. It’s relatively quick to say, but it doesn’t sound quick. It sounds like a heavy blanket or a deep well. Sometimes it sounds like something’s got stuck somewhere. I can’t help but feel the weight in the word. These are the observations of a food writer though… silliness. I don’t actually dislike the word ‘stew’, I just don’t know what to call something that’s fresh, bright, green and zesty, but has been cooked and presented in the same way a dark, rich, meaty stew has been.
- 300g (10.5oz) new potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 courgettes (zucchini), cut into 1cm (0.5in) rounds
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- A large handful of chard, roughly chopped
- 4 or 5 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
- A small handful of basil, leaves pricked
- A small handful of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sourdough bread or good country bread, to serve
Cut the larger potatoes in half, but you can leave any small ones just as they are. Place the potatoes in a pan of water set over a hot fire, add the salt and place a lid on the pan. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 10–12 minutes, or until they’re just tender. Drain the potatoes, but save the cooking water in a bowl or jug.
Set the pan back over the heat and add the extra-virgin olive oil. When it’s hot, add the onion and half the courgettes (zucchini). Add the lemon zest and the garlic, along with plenty of salt and pepper. Place the lid on the pan, but stir the vegetables regularly and try not to let them burn. If the pan’s getting too hot, move it over to a slightly cooler area of the fire.
Keep cooking the courgettes until they begin to soften and break up a bit. This may take 20 minutes or so. Add the cooked potatoes to the pan along with about 500ml (17fl oz) of the cooking water, stir well and bring the liquid to a simmer. Add the chard, stirring everything together to encourage the courgettes to break down. You can also crush the odd potato, which will help thicken it, too.
Meanwhile, lightly oil and season the remaining courgette rounds and lay them on the grill to cook. Cook them for 4–6 minutes on each side, or until they look golden and sweet. Stir the grilled courgettes into the stew along with the spring onions (scallions), basil, parsley and lemon juice. Simmer for a further 4–5 minutes, then take the stew off the heat and allow to stand for 5–10 minutes. Season well and serve with a trickle more extra-virgin olive oil and some good bread.
Published by Quadrille Books