Although it’s rather nice to have someone else cook for you, there’s also something to be said for being your own chef. Back at uni, I’m once again the boss of exactly what I eat: I’m not subject to another person’s dinner hours, nor to their choice of food. Don’t get me wrong, my mum is a good cook, when she has the time and the motivation; but dinner time hours are typically late and rushed, as she works long hours. Understandably, she’d rather knock something easy up than be chopping and simmering for a prolonged period of time.
Back at uni for the beginning of this rather grey January, I have a vaguely-formed New Year’s Resolution to be more ambitious with my cooking: fewer lazy retreats to my favoured ‘goodness bowls’ – sweet potato chips, lentils or beans, leftover veg, feta cheese, olives – and more emphasis on infrequently used ingredients and dishes. I packed myself on to the train with a few new food magazines – Goodfood and The Times‘s The Dish – along with several clipped-out recipes to help me on my way. The first of these was this stew, featuring beetroot: although my favourite pickled vegetable, it’s not one I’ve otherwise cooked with. (But please try a tuna mayo and pickled beetroot sandwich – it is pure bliss.)
This was easy to make, and very tasty. The lemon, tomato, and beetroot combined to make a very fresh and satisfying combination.
You’ll need (to serve four: I adjusted accordingly):
- 150g onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 vine tomatoes
- 500 boiled beetroot
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
- 25g coriander
Start by finely chopping the onion and garlic; if you have fresh chilli, chop in place of using flakes. Zest half the lemon. Cover the tomatoes in boiling water for thirty seconds, before removing the skins and roughly chopping.
Chop the beetroot into relatively large chunks and place in a bowl. Squeeze half the lemon juice over the chunks with a pinch of salt.
Heat the oil in a pan, and cook the onion, garlic and chilli, if using, for a few minutes. Then, add the cumin seed, chilli flakes, and lemon zest, fry for half a minute, then add the tomatoes. Cook and stir, ensuring the tomatoes break down, for ten minutes, until the mixture is loose and chunky.
Add the beetroot, fry for a few minutes, and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Throw in the chopped coriander before serving; this is an ideal accompaniment for rice, couscous, or quinoa.
This is one of Lindsey Bareham’s recipes, a food writer with a daily recipe at the front of The Times. I’m quite a fan of her columns – they are concisely written, and she’s well-versed in numerous cuisines. This stew is one to make again.