Cooking on the canals: courgette and tomato stew recipe
PUBLISHED: 17:30 12 December 2016 | UPDATED: 17:30 12 December 2016
Vicky Blick has a nutritional and cheap meal that uses the veggies that can grow on your boat
1 red pepper
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Cup of red lentils (non soak variety)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Tin of chopped tomatoes, plus a tin of water or stock
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pasta, rice or crusty bread
1) Wash the tomatoes and vegetables well, especially if you are like me and use the canal water to keep the plants moist.
2) Chop the courgettes into chunks, but leave the tomatoes whole.
3) Pour a good glug of olive oil into a sauté pan, slice the onion and garlic and fry until brown.
4) Chop the top off the pepper and de-seed using a dessert spoon. Slice roughly and add to frying pan.
5) Add the courgette and stir. If you have fresh basil on board, chop and add, otherwise use dried.
6) Give the pan a good stir and add the tin of chopped tomatoes, plus the tomato puree and a tin of water. Use stock instead if desired.
7) Add the red lentils, put on the lid and turn the heat down to a simmer. Give the pan a few stirs as it cooks.
8) Once the lentils are soft, after around 30 minutes, add the whole tomatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the liquid content, and add more if required.
9) Add seasoning. Serve with rice, pasta or bread and garnish with fresh chopped basil.
Like most boaters, I’ve got something edible growing in a container, which I can nurture and eat. I have kept chickens, bees and even a goat and so self sufficiency is in my blood.
Yes, there were times when it would have been simpler and cheaper to get our eggs and milk from the supermarket but the animals brought pleasure into our lives and taught the children about good animal welfare and husbandry. With the uncertainty of where our food comes from and what it silently contains, home production means you know exactly what you are eating. Today, two of our girls have followed in my footsteps and keep livestock.
I know there are boaters who keep a couple of hens on board but when I suggested this to the Captain, he was not impressed. I’d even designed the cage, which would sit snuggled into the foredeck so it was easily removable. Seemed idyllic to me but I have contented myself with buying eggs from canalside stalls instead.
Meanwhile, my vegetable planter on the tug deck provides us with two good tasty crops I can always find a use for: courgettes and cherry tomatoes. The courgette is a good substitute for cucumber in a salad and the cherry tomatoes can be used in salad or embellish any cooked dish. The best way to use them, though, is together in a vegetable stew.
It may not sound a romantic dish but it is tasty, hot or cold. I cook plenty and use the leftovers in stuffed pancakes with a cheese topping or as a filling for jacket potato. It’s a meal that ticks all the nutrition boxes, doesn’t cost the earth and uses mostly what you have on board in the larder.
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