When my mother gave birth to my eldest brother, Rory, my grandmother Shafiqa came to the UK to stay for a few months to help my mum and spend time with the new baby. To give my mother a break, my grandmother and my father went to the supermarket to do the shopping and the story goes that my grandmother would ask for 2 tomatoes and 1 cucumber etc and my father would come back with 2 tomatoes and 1 cucumber my grandmother had meant kilos! She would always laugh a lot telling this story. It was absurd to her to buy so few vegetables. In Palestine you always buy veg by the kilo- lots and lots of vegetables each week.
And this is how mama and I buy our vegetables too. Each week we fill a huge box at the grocers so large that he has to carry it out to our car. It’s great to have recipes like this for when you have a few bits of vegetables left over before you start a whole new week. That’s what we did today to clear the fridge ahead of our weekly shop tomorrow.
This is a great dish to make with little ones, layering the veg discs, spooning the sauce and crumbling the cheese it fun, interactive and safe- my eldest son Otis loved helping me with this dish today. It tastes extra tasty when Otis helps.
1 large aubergine
1 red onion
3 red peppers
1 white onion
4 cloves of garlic
Large handful black olives
Handful fresh basil, chopped
Small handful fresh thyme leaves
½ packet of Akkawi cheese or feta cheese
1 can chopped tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock
A few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
Vegetable oil for frying
- make the tomato sauce by finely chopping the white onion, garlic cloves and 1 red pepper and sautéing them in the olive oil until soft
- add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, black olives, basil and bay leaves and bring to the boil
- once bubbling reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Leave the sauce to one side until needed.
- Now prepare the vegetables but finely slicing into discs the courgettes, aubergine, red onion, 2 red peppers. Deep fry the aubergine discs and then drain on kitchen paper until cool enough to handle.
- To assemble the whole dish, put a few spoons of the tomato sauce at eth bottom of a casserole dish, then start layering the vegetable discs. I use a lot of courgette so have a row of courgette after each other vegetable; courgette, red onion, courgette, red pepper, courgette aubergine, courgette and repeat until you have packed all your vegetable discs into the casserole dish.
- Evenly spread the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the vegetables, then crumble over the cheese and scatter the fresh thyme over.
- Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes then serve hot with rice with Shayari.