Recipe: Patrick Drake’s Speedy Sicilian Stew
Q: ‘I struggle to find the hours to make fresh meals for my family. I don’t want to resort to microwave convenience, so how can I utilise my time better?’ Henry, 36, Dulwich
A: Back to school, back to your routine, back to stressing out about dinner? Not on my watch! I just returned from a week-long festival in the middle of the Nevada desert and if it made me realise one thing, it was this: meal prep is sexy. (Honestly, it is. Just hear me out!)
OK, the meal prepping itself might take a bit of effort, but the amount of time it frees up for you to have fun is priceless. I spent a day before the event pre-cooking a bunch of recipes and my 25 camp mates watched in wonderment as I fed them all within minutes using my trusty, rickety camping stove.
Think about it this way: if you’re going to the effort of cooking a meal for one or two people, it’s only marginally more effort to increase the ingredients and double or triple the ratios. You’ll probably spend 20 per cent extra time, but you’ll actually end up with 300 per cent more chow!
So here’s my ultimate battle plan: pick a day (Sunday often makes sense), switch on your favourite podcast/audio book/boxset/ soundtrack, and line up (at least) a couple of recipes. Once you’ve hammered through them, bag up in individual portions, date and stick them in the freezer.
Hey presto – more time for that class you wanted to take, catching up with old friends, or perfecting your reverse frisbee throw. In fact, why not start with the simple stew to the right?
SPEEDY SICILIAN STEW
• 1 aubergine, 2cm dice
• 1/2 stick celery, 1/2 cm dice
• 1 tin chopped tomatoes
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 tbsps green olives, finely chopped
• 1 red pepper, 2cm cubes
• 1 green pepper, 2cm cubes
• 4 regular size pork sausages (ideally
flavoured with oregano and/or chilli flakes)
• 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
• 3 tbsps parsley, finely chopped
- Preheat your oven to 220 C. Chop the aubergine, celery, garlic, peppers and olives.
- Coat the aubergine and pepper in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Spread on a baking tray and roast on the top oven shelf for 20 minutes, until crispy at the edges.
- Heat 1. tbsps of olive oil in a nonstick pan. Once hot, add the celery and garlic with . tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. While this cooks, remove the sausage meat from the skins and add to the pan. Break it up and cook for 5 minutes.
- Tip in the chopped tomatoes, then refill the tin 1/4 full with water and stir in. Add another 1/4 tsp of salt, the olives and white wine vinegar. Leave to simmer and thicken for 10-15 minutes.
- Once the veggies have roasted, remove from the oven, add to the pan and stir.
- When the stew has thickened, serve in warmed bowls. It can be eaten with cutlery, or with a toasted ciabatta posing as an edible shovel!
Recipes That Work by Patrick Drake (Octopus Books, £20) is out now