Harissa-spiced Aubergine, Pepper and Potato Stew

Son number two asked me last night to make a vegetarian dinner, forgetting entirely that my attempt at introducing Meat-Free Mondays a few months back had met with almost violent protest from both boys. Having checked the contents of the fridge and the veg drawer, I was grateful for his request, as I found peppers, courgette and aubergine all on the verge of spoiling. A quick re-visit to the Meat-Free Mondays cookbook I’d invested in during my earlier, foiled attempt at a more sustainable family diet uncovered a version of this recipe. I’ve amended a little to suit our tastes, removing the feta cheese that no-one in my family will eat but me and using fennel in place pf celery, simply because I had some handy and enjoy the taste. The harissa was also my addition in an attempt to spice things up a little.

I also upped the potato count and used small baby potatoes, which keep their shape better and don’t need peeling. All in all, this was well-received – it’s filling and healthy and no-one missed the meat element. There’s protein in the beans, so no thing to worry about on that front and with a chunk or two of crusty bread (which unfortunately I didn’t have to hand), this is a complete and balanced vegetarian one pot meal.

Serves 4   |  15 mins prep plus 45 mins cooking

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, finely chopped (or use a stick of celery if you don’t like fennel)
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 red pepper cut into large chunks
  • Half a yellow/orange/green pepper cut into large chunks
  • 1 aubergine cut into large chunks
  • 1 courgette cut into large chunks
  • 10 baby new potatoes quartered
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 400g tin cannellini beans
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat half the oil in a large pot or casserole and fry the onions and fennel for 5 mins or so until softened but not coloured. Now add the garlic, and cook gently for another 2 mins.
  2. Add the remaining oil, chopped peppers, courgette and aubergine and cook for 4-5 mins. Add the potatoes, stock, tinned tomatoes, oregano, harissa and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, stir, bring the heat down to a simmer and cook for 25 mins or so.
  3. Make sure the potatoes are fairly tender before adding the drained and rinsed cannellini beans and cooking for a further 5 mins.
  4. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary, then add the pine nuts and parsley before serving.
  5. Serve with some crusty bread to mop up all the lovely juices.

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