A favourite ‘across the road’ recipe, needing only basic ingredients. I cannot count the times I have been grateful for the way British cities have embraced feta cheese and pitta bread.
Ingredients | Serves 2-3
1 x 400g/ 14oz can chopped tomatoes
2 pinches of dried oregano
½ teaspoon of ground coriander seed
225g/ 8oz feta cheese, drained and cut into 2cm/ ¾ in cubes
¼ – ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
To serve: pitta bread, toasted and cut into strips, or other types of flatbread
Choose a pan with a well-fitting lid. Heat the oil until it is just beginning to release white smoke and quickly add the tomatoes. Put the lid on quickly – they will sizzle and splash. Leave the lid on the pan until the sizzling dies down, then lift the lid and add the oregano and coriander. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the cheese. Swirl a little with a spoon. When the cheese begins to melt, remove from the heat, sprinkle over the paprika and season with black pepper. Scatter over the parsley, if using. Serve with toasted flatbread.
You do not have to stick with the recipe as it stands. Substitute fresh parsley with coriander or a few fresh thyme leaves; you can also add some rocket leaves just as you serve, or some chopped capers, or perhaps pitted black olives, cut in half. You can also make this simply by adding feta cheese to a pan of the sweet cooked tomato.
Hunger calling: a little contraction in the gut, a bodily alarm that is simply asking for some attention. It is a sudden need for fuel, a demand for nourishment, and what do so many of us do? Instead of sending in a crack team of ideally suited nutrients, we lob Jaffa Cakes at the situation. Traditional cookery deals well with the kind of food that is just right for a family meal in the evening, a weekend lunch or a show-off dinner party. But in actuality there are a number of times each week when meals are informal – and most often need to be taken in a hurry. To be fair to those with the Jaffa Cake solution, it is typical to be caught short of food away from home. Making better packed lunched and car picnics is a good habit to acquire, as is learning to cook the kind of spontaneous dishes you will find over the next pages.
The art of combining ingredients from a number that are always on your shopping list and cooking them in a way that maximises their quality – and by this I mean their nutrient element – is a good habit to have. It is fair to call it an art. Good spontaneous cooking is an instinct for what works well together and, if pleasing others, a sensitivity that tells you what they might enjoy. It can be full of colour and sensuous texture, good-for-you food that is a joy to eat, however simple. It is flexible food and, most importantly of all, it does a much better job of dealing with hunger than a circle of sponge spread with orange jelly and chocolate. Oh yes it does.
This recipe appears in ‘Kitchenella‘
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