The farmers’ market has all sorts of different varieties of courgettes – long, thin and stripy, to little round balls, which is what I used here. This is a Nigel Slater recipe which is perfect for a light summer supper and is both tangy from light spicing and filling. You don’t need many ingredients so its a good stand-by. I always have tins of chick peas in the cupboard as they are packed full of protein, fibre, folates and other nutrients including vitamin B 6, thiamin, magnesium and zinc. They are also low fat. They are at the centre of much vegan and vegetarian cooking, rightly so.
Serves 2, with rice or crusty bread
3 medium onions
3 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tsp ground turmeric or 1 cm fresh turmeric, peeled & finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp hot ground cayenne
350g cherry tomatoes
600 g summer squash or courgettes
350g spinach with stalks
1 x 400g can chickpeas
Peel the onions, halve them, then cut each half into 3 or 4 segments. Warm the oil in a large, heavy-based casserole, add the yellow mustard seeds and cook for 1 minute then, as they start to pop, stir in the onions, turmeric, cumin and cayenne and lower the heat. Cook for 15 minutes, partially covering the pan with a lid and stirring occasionally.
When the onions are golden and fragrant, halve the cherry tomatoes, add them to the onions and leave to cook until soft. Cut the squash into thick segments, or courgettes into thick slices, roughly the length of a wine cork. Fold them into the onions and tomatoes, together with 200ml of water and bring to the boil. Leave the stew simmering for 15 minutes.
Wash the spinach and remove the toughest of the stalks. Put the wet leaves into a nonstick pan with a lid and cook them for a minute or two over a moderate heat, letting the leaves steam and relax. Remove them from the pan then cool immediately under cold running water and drain.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and stir them into the onions. Continue cooking, stirring from time to time, until the courgettes are translucent and tender. Check the seasoning – you may want to add salt. Squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach then fold into the courgettes gently and without crushing them.