Friday, 5 July 2013

Courgettes and red peppers

This week my fridge is full of summery food. Upon opening the door, I am hit with the inviting smell and sight of a simple quinoa and grapefruit salad. On the shelf below is a large bowl of chopped seasonal fruit, ready to be scooped into bowls with yoghurt and oats for breakfast. The shelf below that, however, does not contain a delightfully practical half prepared meal. The shelf in question is the one in charge of reminding me of food I am not quite sure what to do with yet. Today I am faced with two large courgettes and four small, twisted red peppers, which look like largish scotch bonnet peppers (fortunately for my tongue they weren't), along with a few large vine tomatoes and a tupaware of cooked chickpeas (surplus, a result of poor planning). When faced with these vegetables it can be all too easy to be tempted into roasting them in a Mediterranean style. I didn't really fancy this - also, I don't think the chickpeas would have let me. There is also a small bowl of labneh to be thrown into the equation. It is a difficult mix but I came up with a recipe that resulted in positive reviews all around for dinner.




Roasted summer vegetables with chickpeas and labne
Serves 4 to 6

- large courgettes, 2 (or 3 medium)
- tomatoes, 400g
- red peppers, 250g
- olive oil, 80ml
- red wine vinegar, tbsp
- caraway seeds, tbsp
- preserved lemon, 50g
- garlic cloves, 2
- cooked chickpeas, 400g 
- roughly chopped pecans, small handful

For the labneh
- labneh, around 200g
- finely chopped mint, 2 tbsp
- za'atar, tsp
- extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Chop the ends off the courgettes and slice them in half lengthways. Chop each half into 3/4 inch semi circles. Cut each tomato into eight slices, and cut the peppers into bitesize chunks. Add the chopped vegetables to a roasting tin along with 50 ml of the oil, vinegar, caraway seeds and a good grinding of pepper. Place into the oven and roast for 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the labneh. Mix together the labneh, mint and za'atar, then drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil to taste.
When the vegetables still have 10 minutes left in the oven heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat. Finely slice the garlic and rinse the preserved lemon, remove the inner pulp and finely chop. Add the lemon and garlic to the pan and cook gently for 5-10 minutes.
When the vegetables come out from the oven, using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the saucepan and stir in the chickpeas. Simmer for 15 minutes, giving the occasional stir. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a minute. Spoon into bowls and serve with a dollop of the mint labneh mixed in and the chopped pecan sprinkled over.




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