This spicy North-African pepper and tomato stew with eggs baked on top makes a lovely, lazy supper. The classic Italian peperonata* is prepared in the same way but without eggs or spices – it is equally good.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large onion, halved and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 red [bell] pepper, cored, deseeded and finely sliced
1 yellow [bell] pepper, cored deseeded and finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
A pinch of saffron strands
400g** tin plum tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a large, preferably ovenproof, frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them fry gently for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and cook gently for 8-10 minutes, or until soft and golden.
Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook over a low heat for at least 20 minutes, stirring often, until the peppers are soft and wilted. Add the paprika, crumble in the saffron, then add the tomatoes with their juice and some salt and pepper. Cook gently, stirring from time to time, for 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C***/Gas Mark 4.
Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If your frying pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Make 4 hollows in the surface and carefully break an egg into each one. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the egg white is set and the yolk still runny.
Simply leave out the cumin, paprika, saffron and eggs, serving the stew after simmering – with bread and/or a crisp green salad.
** 400g = 15oz. can
*** 180°C = 350°F
Recipe copied from “River Cottage Veg Every Day!”
First published in Great Britain 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Text © 2011 by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Photography © 2011 by Simon Wheeler