Recipe for zucchini and potato stew

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This is definitely a “cooking” recipe, not a cooking recipe, and is one of my favorite dishes. It was once made by my late grandmother Lucia – with her remarkable home-grown potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes – and so was my mother.

Hours

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serve

four

Ingridients

  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 50 g of plain flour
  • 4 tablespoons rapeseed oil (or any vegetable oil), if necessary additionally
  • 2-3 medium courgettes (or 1 bone), cut into ½ cm rings
  • 3 banana shallots or onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 800 g ripe tomatoes, skinned and grated flesh (or 2×400 g cans of chopped tomatoes)
  • 2-4 tablespoons full-fat creme fraiche
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely grated
  • Fresh dill, for serving
  • Bread and butter, for serving (optional)

Method

  1. Mom peels the potatoes, but I don’t bother. Cut them into thin circles or semicircles if they are quite large. In a bowl, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a large cast iron skillet or deep skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and sprinkle the potato slices into the spicy flour.
  2. Fry the potatoes in heated oil in batches until they turn brown on at least one side. You want to color them here and there, but they don’t have to be completely cooked. If the pan is dry, add some more oil. Place the fried potatoes on a plate and set aside.
  3. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any potatoes or flour that has gotten stuck, add some more oil if necessary, and then fry the courgettes in batches to brown them here and there. Place on a plate with the potatoes.
  4. If necessary, add oil again and add shallots (or onions). Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, occasionally adding a little water to smooth the shallots, and scrape along the bottom of the pan. You want them to soften and color nicely – we don’t make French onion soup here, so no deep caramelization is required. Then add the tomato puree and cook for a few minutes.
  5. Add fresh or canned tomatoes and mix everything together. Then add the creme fraiche and stir again. The sauce will be powder pink pink and will smell delicious.
  6. Add potatoes and zucchini to the sauce, preferably in layers. Cook over low heat with the lid halfway, about 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
  7. For the last five minutes of cooking, add the garlic to the pot and gently stir it into the sauce.
  8. This dish can be perfectly eaten hot with lots of dill on top, but it is so delicious if you eat it only warm or at room temperature with a large piece of crusty bread.

Olia Hercules is the author of Mamushka’s book, Kaukasis: The Cookbook and Summer Kitchens; this recipe is taken from The Female Chef by Clare Finney (£ 28, Hoxton Mini Press)

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