Some of the oldies are the best! My copy of Colin Spencer’s Cordon Vert dates from 1985 – and if memory serves correctly he was the first cookery writer (in the UK at least) to make vegetarian food glamorous. That’s not quite the right adjective: he moved vegetarianism away from being solely the preserve of eco-hippies to the mainstream.
Moroccan Potato Casserole used green bell peppers, with cumin and coriander spices, but over the years I’ve Italianised it by using fennel seeds and rosemary, along with friggitello peppers – thin fleshed, tangy little numbers. If you cannot get hold of them, use romano peppers instead.
Keep it soupy and serve it with olive bread, or stew it down and have it as accompaniment to sausages, fried eggs, anything you feel like, really.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
350g friggitello peppers, whole but with stalks and seeds removed
350g potatoes cut into 2-3cm cubes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed with a pestle and mortar
1 tablespoon rosemary needles, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon each of salt and cayenne pepper
chicken stock or water, to cover the vegetables
Optional: 1 thick rasher pancetta, cubed and fried until crisp
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and soften the onion for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic, fry for a minute longer and then add the peppers, potatoes, herbs and seasonings. Give everything a good stir and pour in enough stock or water to cover the vegetables. Put a lid on the pan and simmer everything until the potatoes are cooked. This will depend on the size of your potato cubes and how fast you’re simmering the stew, but start prodding the potatoes with a sharp knife tip after 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning.
This stew is best warm, not piping hot; sometimes I add fried pancetta just before serving if it’s going to be a meal in itself