So of course I have never gone anywhere near Anna Jones, being as she is successful and popular and “everywhere”, I just think Buh, fuck off.
But then my dear friend Annie gave me her cookbook and I had a flick through it and still thought Jesus what is all the fuss about.
But THEN feeling inspired and living life slowly at the moment – both kids are off school and Sam has had such uncontrollable runs I had to put him back in a nappy for two days – I bought all the ingredients for and made her courgette and chickpea thing.
(I am also always on the lookout for good vegetarian cooking because I reckon come the apocalypse, if I survive, if you have a really good repertoire of vegetarian cooking, life will be better. You think I’m joking.)
Anyway it was great! One of those dishes where you look at it when it’s finished and think “What a dismal heap of hedge clippings” but it wasn’t, it was absolutely terrific. Giles loved it. “This is wonderful,” he said, which he doesn’t always.
Also one of those ones where the first time you make it, it’s all a bit of a hassle, but subsequent times you can do it without thinking and it would be a breeze.
Anyway here we go.
Sweet roasted courgettes with crispy chickpeas from Anna Jones
For 4, or for 2 if it’s all you’re eating
4 medium courgettes
1 red onion
1/2 bunch thyme
1 jar roasted red peppers
500g cherry tomatoes (I don’t think I used 500g – just “some” will do)
2 cloves garlic
1 tin chickpeas, rinsed
1 unwaxed lemon
1 Preheat your grill to absolute full bongoes and grate your courgette into a baking tray. Chuck over a lot of salt and pepper and some drizzles of olive oil then put the tray under the heat while you do everything else. Give it a stir and a shuffle every now and then.
2 Put a frying pan with some olive oil on a medium heat. Thinly slice the red onion and put it in the oil with picked thyme leaves. Cook gently for about 5 minutes.
3 Chop up the red peppers, garlic and tomatoes.
4 When the onions are cooked and tangly and the courgette is browning at the edges and looking a bit cooked, (don’t worry if they seem a bit sloppy), put in the red peppers, tomatoes and the onion and put back under the heat.
5 Without bothering to really clean the pan from cooking the onion, put in a bit more oil and then put in your chick peas, salt and pepper and the zest of the lemon. On reflection I would add the lemon as a garnish to finish it as my lemon zest just got stuck to the bottom of the pan and burnt.
I think “crispy” chickpeas is a bit of a reach as a description for this – what the chickpeas do is go brown. That’s not a bad thing, but don’t think you’re getting “crispy” chickpeas, that’s all.
Anyway, cook the chickpeas in the pan reasonably hot, shaking them about and paying attention to them until they look crispy, (without necessarily genuinely being so), and then shake them over the courgette-and-pepper thing under the grill. Crumble over some feta too if it’s all just too stoic without it. Jones suggests halloumi or ricotta but it’s up to you really.
To my mind this is kind of crying for that fresh lemon zest sprinkled over the top at the end, with some chopped mint – after all, it’s not the apocalypse yet.